The economist Joseph Schumpeter coined the phrase “creative destruction” in 1942 to describe the less-than-tidy way free markets lead to progress: the telephone replaced the telegraph; the cellphone replaced the telephone; the smartphone (we’re still in the middle of this one) is replacing the cellphone; and so on. Something gets destroyed and something new and exciting is built on top of it.
The destruction and renewal upon which the tech industry has thrived has accelerated thanks to the Internet, cheap smartphone apps and lower costs of doing business. Facebook, for example, which in just a few years has gone from a start-up to one of the most powerful companies in Silicon Valley, has to constantly be on the lookout for the next big threat. And when it can’t take those competitors out at the knees, it buys them, like the photo-sharing service Instagram.
So who is safe from the perils of the smartphone? No one, it seems. Not even Apple.