The Three Waves of Disruption
Case divides the history of the Internet into two waves of disruption. The first wave, 1985-2000, consisted of developing the Internet itself. Innovators took a niche concept and turned it into the ubiquitous technology we know today. The second, stretching from the late 1990s to the present, involved the creation of new Internet services: search engines, social media, and mobile apps.
Both waves revolutionized how we retrieve information, consume media, and communicate with each other. But both were narrow in scope — they focused on the Internet itself as an industry. The third wave will move away from the Internet as the focal point and instead use the web as a tool to improve more traditional industries.
The transportation and food delivery industries have already begun experiencing this. Companies like Uber, Lyft, Instacart, and GrubHub are taking full advantage of mobile technology to make people’s lives easier. And the Internet of Things, an industry that has been on the verge of booming for what seems like decades, may finally become a reality as this third wave takes hold.
Whereas the first two waves offered Internet-centric revolutions, this third wave promises a revolution beyond the web. It will affect the ways we interact with the rest of the world — and this is what makes it so exciting. Innovation, however, can only thrive in an environment that supports it, and without the right funding and the right partnerships, the third wave may never come ashore.