Information Appliances and Disruptive Technologies
Two key points that I would like to take away are the concepts of disruptive technologies and the process of technology maturity. Disruptive technologies are those technologies that change the game, disturb or break entire industries. Some well-known examples of such technologies include the automobile (displacing the horse and carriage industry), airplane travel (displacing train travel, for the most part at least). More subtle disruptive technologies include personal computers and hydraulic machines (such as the backhoe). The reason that these and other technologies are disruptive is that the current marketplace didn't see them as a threat. Often the disruptive technologies put the existing market leaders out of business before even the big companies that are selling the current technology even have time to realize or do anything about it.
Information appliances are becoming a disruptive technology and the reason lies in the second concept (technology maturity). When new technologies come out they are expensive and the only people who buy them are the technologists, or those that have a very specific niche use, those that are willing to pay higher costs and deal with some difficulties in use for the gain that they get from the technology. As the technology matures though, more people can afford it and the companies gain a market of people who are looking for ease of use, the companies, generally, then need to focus more on usability and less on features. With the PC, and other similar computing technologies, technologist, and therefore features, have driven the industry for quite a while. The PC is finally maturing in a way that will eventually lead to an evolution to the next stage of maturity and to information appliances.