The literature on disruptive technologies has previously stated that those innovations often emerge in low-end segments or in new markets and as the performance improves it eventually displaces the old technology. This article aims to explain how and why a technology may prosper in high-end or mainstream markets despite its initially lower performance and does so through three in-depth case studies. The findings suggest that those technologies may compensate the inferior performance by simplifying and removing work for customers. For instance, digital imaging emerged in high-end segments since these customers were willing to trade-off the initially lower image quality in order to remove the usage of film. Based upon these results, the paper concludes that the literature on disruptive technologies needs to maintain a more nuanced view of value and how it is created and distributed inside the customer’s organisation.
Keywords: disruptive technology, inferior, performance, Hasselblad, high-end, Facit, digital imaging, IP video surveillance