Ben Thompson believes Clayton Christensen's theory of low-end disruption only applies to B2B markets where
- 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
The point of the article is to question the assumptions where low-end disruption should have happened to the iPhone by now, but it continues to capture significant marketshare.
The attribute most valued by consumers, assuming a product is at least in the general vicinity of a need, is ease-of-use. It’s not the only one – again, doing a job-that-needs-done is most important – but all things being equal, consumers prefer a superior user experience.
What is interesting about this attribute is that it is impossible to overshoot.
Can you flip this around for a B2B market like traditional academic publishing, where the buyer (the institutional purchaser) is not the end user (the researcher)? This would imply that a low-end disruption is entirely possible, and that over-emphasizing the user experience can overshoot the market.
Conversely, academic publishers with a B2C business model (like open access) could avoid low-end disruption by continuing to make improvements to the user experience.