Disruptive Innovations in Unified Communications

by Andrew Prokop | Arrow Systems Integration

Source: No Jitter

A disruptive innovation is a technologically simple innovation in the form of a product, service, or business model that takes root in a tier of the market that is unattractive to the established leaders in an industry.

-Clayton Christensen

Do you remember your first public email account? I remember mine. It was a Yahoo account that I created sometime in the 1990s. While I had a work email account for a number of years prior to that, it was only used for professional emails within my company and to other companies. It wasn't the kind of thing I would have used to send links to cat videos (even if cat videos existed back then).

Compared to what is available today, those original Yahoo mail accounts were pretty bare bones. Messages were written using basic text, and the only bells and whistles that I recall were rudimentary spam filtering and block lists. There was no html or rich text formatting. You couldn't prioritize emails or set custom stationary backgrounds. The account was free, though, and despite its simplicity, I was happy with what it could do.

I can't exactly recall how much storage space each account was allocated, but by today's standards, it was minuscule. Actually, minuscule is being too generous. It was either 1 or 1.5 megabytes. Yes, you heard me right -- 1.5 megabytes. And no, I don't mean message size (which was probably a lot less). I am talking about total storage for all emails sent or received.

Such innocent times we lived in.

You can still get a free Yahoo email account ... and do you know what the new limit is? One terabyte. That's 666,666.667 times more storage than what I started out with all those years ago.

So, why the big change? Did people suddenly become more verbose and every email rivaled the length of Gone with the Wind?

Of course not. What changed was that we moved far beyond simple text. We wanted color and different fonts. We wanted to bold text and emphasize important words in italics. We wanted some phrases to stand out. More importantly, we wanted to send emails that didn't rely on text alone. We wanted to attach documents, videos, and embed photographs. We wanted our emails to reflect the multimedia world that we lived in on our computers.

For many people, the driving need for a larger email storage limit was the invention of the smart phone and its built-in camera. Now, instead of having to lug around "real cameras," pockets and purses are loaded up with these mobile recording studios. Everything from tonight's dinner to our kids' soccer games are captured, uploaded, and emailed to friends and family around the world. The 5K email of 1997 became 5meg, and a single message would have exceeded a 1.5 megabyte inbox by almost a factor of three. Practically overnight, email accounts replaced the shoeboxes of photographs and Super-8 film reels of my parent's era.

 

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