The Curse of the First-Mover: When Incremental Innovation Leads to Radical Change
London Metropolitan Business School
University College London
May 1, 2009
International Journal of Collaborative Enterprise, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 4–21, 2009
The literature establishes a strong link between radical innovation, first-mover advantage and market dominance. However, there are numerous examples where, despite being the first-mover and radically innovating, companies have failed to achieve a significant market share. In fact, incremental innovation can, sometimes, influence the industry in a more significant way than radical innovation. The aim of this article is to investigate the relation between radical innovation, incremental innovation and market dominance. It explains why radical innovation and first-mover advantage might fail to provide competitive advantage and weaken companies. In order to do so, the article examines the key determinants of why first-movers may face a disadvantage in comparison to followers. These theoretical results are supported by the case study of four products released by Apple, two of which correspond to radical innovations and to others to incremental innovation.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 18
Keywords: incremental innovation, radical innovation, first-mover advantage, digital audio player, Apple, iPod, iMac, Lisa, NewtonAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: May 13, 2009 ; Last revised: June 3, 2009
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