Framework for understanding innovation

Solid piece from TechCrunch. Genomics is definitely going to be a major industry going forward. Also interesting is this framework for technical innovation – many interesting parallels between the development of electricity and the development of the internet.

“Before the light bulb, electricity was also a niche product. It was so niche that no one used it and generating electricity and wiring houses made no sense. Electric wiring became necessary as a means to power Thomas Edison’s iconic invention. The light bulb was the killer app that drove infrastructure investment. Side note: Edison’s other killer app was the electric chair.

Initially only JP Morgan had electric wiring in his home – he had an on-prem generator. But demand for the light bulb skyrocketed because it was at least a 10X improvement over kerosene lamps, candles, and houses burning down. As the light solution moved from a vertically integrated, on premises generator to “cloud” electric generators powering entire neighborhoods and cities, the electric grid was built.

The result was a network that other appliances could now plug into without the initial setup costs paid by JP Morgan and other early adopters.  An entire ecosystem of apps could now be designed and built by entrepreneurs because the distribution system and infrastructure was already in place. The initial technology, electricity, was driven by the killer app to mass distribution where network effects kicked in.”

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