Are the ecosystem wars won on the factory floor?

I’ll be speaking at the Harvard Business School Technology and Operations Management Digital Seminar Series on “The evolution of value chains in a computing markets measured in the billions of units per year.”


2013 will see two billion phones shipped into a market of over 6 billion points of network connectivity for over 4 billion consumers. In addition to phones, there will be a few hundred million more tablets and mobile computers shipped. It’s very likely that the majority of these devices will be “smart”, meaning designed to be a part of an ecosystem of software, content and services. Contrary to the common assumption that larger markets sustain more competitors, this immense and rapidly growing market has become profitable for only two device vendors. The reason is that the windows for competitive advantage are fairly narrow and although production can be ramped more quickly than ever, the resources needed are available to few.  The frequency and amplitude of market flux benefits only those who can operate at scale and punishes those who can’t. Close observation of the investments of these “superpower” competitors shows an extraordinary level of capital purchases of manufacturing equipment, regardless of their nominal position in the value chain. These capital expenses have been growing in proportion to in the frequency of product launches. I present data showing a correlation between manufacturing equipment CapEx and ecosystem success and put forward a hypothesis that this relationship is causal. I also discuss the implications for ecosystems owners with regard to the processes, resources and priorities necessary to succeed in this evolved value chain.​


The event is open to the public and taking place March 7th, 3:00PM to 4:30PM in the Cotting Conference Room.