The three ways technology reaches end users

In this discussion, I suggest that all modern technological breakthroughs that affect normal people might be understood as belonging to one of three models:

First, I acknowledge the ‘normal’ model: publicly funded research yields technological breakthroughs, which are developed into mass-market tools. The selling of the tool generates profit.  The user applies the tools to generate value for himself, not the entity.

Typewriters –> IBM, Selectric
Mobile phones –> Motorola, Sprint
Smartphones –> Apple, Google, Samsung
eBooks –> Amazon
Video games –> EA, Sony, Valve

Second, the ‘fishhook’ model does not generate most of its value from selling the tool.  These entities develop a technology into a ‘fishhook:’ the tool is free, because the entity extracts value from users’ activity: the use of the tool, not the tool, generates the value.  Any free or advertising-supported tool is using the ‘fishhook’ model.

TV –> NBC, Foxtel, Comcast
Ad-supported Kindle –> Amazon
Video –> Youtube
Collaborative Planning –> Google Calendar, etc
Social science –> Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

The third way are what I call ‘happy accidents’. For example, the personal computer, email, WWW, and torrents were all unharnessed breakthroughs. I argue these were accidents, not the plan, of the large entities that funded their research.  Apple largely failed to exploit the PC revolution with the Apple II. It did not make that mistake the second time with the iPhone.  Many entities today aim to intentionally induce these “accidents”. Free IP, indie media, maker movement, and open-source culture are examples.

I developed this idea during a discussion of consumer media literacy.  If I publish that, I’ll edit this line with a link to it.

I’m looking forward to your reasoned response.