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How Cross-Boundary Disruptive-from-Above Superseded Incumbents' Sustaining Innovation in the Mobile Industry: Qualitative, Graphical and Computational Insights


  • Burgelman, Robert A.

    (Stanford University)

  • Thomas, John K.


This study of the transformation of the mobile device industry examines how cross-boundary disruption (XBD) superseded the incumbents' sustaining innovation, which helps explain the rapid rise of Apple and Google Android and the equally rapid fall of Nokia and other incumbents between 2007 and 2013. Four concatenated strategic factors limited the incumbents' capacity to adapt: (1) incumbents' market myopia about latent unserved needs of the high-end customer segment, (2) incumbents' dynamic capabilities gaps for meeting these needs, (3) demand shift timing of high-end customers toward the disruptors' radically innovative products, and (4) the rapid growth of novel ecosystems around the disruptors' technology platforms. Graphical interpretation further elucidates these concatenated strategic factors and suggests computational implications. The paper's qualitative, graphical and computational insights help formulate a conceptual framework of XBD-from-above, which contributes to theory development about inter-industry disruption and transformation.

Suggested Citation

  • Burgelman, Robert A. & Thomas, John K., 2018. "How Cross-Boundary Disruptive-from-Above Superseded Incumbents' Sustaining Innovation in the Mobile Industry: Qualitative, Graphical and Computational Insights," Research Papers 3705, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:3705

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