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Author tracks deadly path of innovation

Disruptive innovations can be simple, cheap

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Innovation can be lethal, says Clayton Christensen, author of "Seeing What's Next" and professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School. Christensen, who has studied the life cycle of corporations, said there is a common story in mega-companies that are taken down by far smaller competitors. It's not necessarily about which company has the most technologically advanced products, he said. Rather, success can be based on innovations that shake the marketplace with their ease of use and affordability. "It seems not to matter technologically whether the innovation is complicated," said Christensen, who spoke last week at a home builders' conference in San Francisco. "What is it that kills successful companies? Oddly, it isn't somebody that comes in and makes better stuff, but someone disrupts the market." The disruptive innovations are often the ones that are "simple and affordable and convenient to use," he said. Without such a disruption, the major companies are likel...