The Law of Digital Instability

The collapse of RIM’s sales and postponement of its latest model, hard on the heels of what have seemed to be less than adroit management changes, underline a principle that seems obvious enough even though it is generally being ignored.

Digital-age companies, to the extent that their technologies are digitally powered, and to the extent that they essentially are built around one technology, are inherently unstable and liable to rapid collapse.

This  directly follows from the profoundly disruptive impact of Moore’s Law over relatively short periods of time.

But it is not widely noted. Which is why during IBM’s centennial year there was speculation about which great contemporary companies would be around in a century. Which is why the valuation of companies such as Facebook is so high – and that applies also to Google, for example, even though it has a much lower P/E ratio. Both Facebook and Google, despite their best best efforts (especially on Google’s part) are essentially one-tech digitally-driven companies – with, which is of course a separate point, one dominant business model and product.

It’s the Law of Digital Instability. The sooner we build it into our valuations, the better. And the sooner companies in its grip realize (as Google gives evidence of realizing) how risky is their position over time, the more likely they will find ways to broaden their product/tech/biz mode base.


RIM earnings: BlackBerry maker plans to slash 5,000 jobs, new devices delayed until 2013 | FP Tech Desk | Financial Post.

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