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Harvard Business Review on Rebuilding Your Business Model by Harvard Business Review

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Disruptive Technologies

Catching the Wave

by Joseph L. Bower and Clayton M. Christensen

ONE OF THE MOST CONSISTENT PATTERNS in business is the failure of leading companies to stay at the top of their industries when technologies or markets change. Goodyear and Firestone entered the radial-tire market quite late. Xerox let Canon create the small-copier market. Bucyrus-Erie allowed Caterpillar and Deere to take over the mechanical excavator market. Sears gave way to Wal-Mart.

The pattern of failure has been especially striking in the computer industry. IBM dominated the mainframe market but missed by years the emergence of minicomputers, which were technologically much simpler than mainframes. Digital Equipment dominated the minicomputer market ...

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