Ours is a golden age for consumers and an age of anxiety for businesses. Every 12 to 18 months we can reliably expect that products will continue to get better and cheaper.
This means that an industry can be disrupted by an innovation that comes from out of left field. But even if a company does not miss the boat completely, it can still fall victim to catastrophic success.
As the technology writer Larry Downes tells Jeff Schechtman in this week's Specific Gravity interview, all of a sudden a company might have millions of new customers in a very short period of time. "You have to be ready with the right kind of infrastructure to absorb these new customers," Downes says.
Furthermore, there is a shorter life cycle for a new innovation. "Don't imagine that tremendous growth will keep going and going," Downes warns. You're going to reach the point where everyone has your product, and competitors will notice your success. Very quickly you will need to start looking for your next product or service or otherwise decide to sell your company.