March 06, 2015 at 09:51AM
"What Clayton Christensen Got Wrong in his Theory of Low-End Disruption" #readingToday  

Interestingly, Christensen himself laid out his theory's primary flaw in the first quote excerpted above (from 2006):

"You also see it in aircrafts and software, and medical devices, and over and over."

That is the problem: Consumers don't buy aircraft, software, or medical devices. Businesses do.

Christensen's theory is based on examples drawn from buying decisions made by businesses, not consumers.5 The reason this matters is that the theory of low-end disruption presumes:

Buyers are rational
Every attribute that matters can be documented and measured
Modular providers can become "good enough" on all the attributes that matter to the buyers

All three of the assumptions fail in the consumer market, and this, ultimately, is why Christensen's theory fails as well. Let me take each one in turn...

Clayton Christensen has two theories of disruption: new-market, and low-end. The latter is fundamentally flawed and not applicable in the consumer market.