iPhone 4 redefines "disruptive technology"

by Thomas Brady


Traditionally, the term disruptive technology describes an invention or innovation that creates a whole new category of product or service. Refrigerators, for example, disrupted the goods and services known as the icebox and the milkman.

iPhone 4 isn’t even looking to disrupt the mobile industry (although, Facetime is set to be a disruptive technology, and certainly the 720p video recording could be seen as such by the late Flip, RIP). They’re looking to screw things up for AT&T and FedEx, if not in a necessarily competitive way.

AT&T just absolutely couldn’t handle the volume of sales for the iPhone 4 this and last week. Pretty incredible. To some extent, who could blame them? It’s just another iPhone launch, right? We’ll staff like we did last time and it’ll be fine. Seems reasonable to me. Who knew the reaction would be like this?

I tried to pre-order last week, and had a hell of a time due to AT&T’s computers being down (web servers as well as point-of-sale servers - everything). I was told at the time that I might not be getting delivery until July 5th. I was fine with that.

Got a tracking number all of a sudden on Monday, telling me I’d be one of those people getting my iPhone 4 on Wednesday, the 23rd. I was a bit shocked, but pleased.

The tracking info trailed off into oblivion. When the “shipping details” suddenly changed from a large, detailed table - including “expected delivery date: June 23rd by 3 PM” - to a single line “shipped on June 22nd,” I called FedEx. Yeah, our systems are mostly down from the traffic. Basically, it looks like your iPhone is probably - now I can’t guarantee this - sitting in a big crate in Dallas, and has been since yesterday morning. You might get your phone tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after that. It’s really hard to say at this point.

Out of curiosity I called again this morning. Hmm, this looks really weird. It looks like you should have gotten the item yesterday. Well, I’m pretty sure you’ll get it today. We had a… uhh… storm. Yeah, a storm in Memphis is what delayed your item. You should get it today by 3 PM.