There’s no question Musk is innovative, but whether his company engages in innovative disruption is something else again.
Nokia, BlackBerry & Microsoft were disrupted by Android, but that didn’t happen until — maybe, wouldn’t have happened without — Apple’s bold vision of an easy-to-use, really personal computer. What Android added to the mix was software eating the world, the ultra-accelerated evolution of software, quickly surpassing even the every-two-year-doubling of hardware that Gordon Moore posited.
How did this happen? I think the mythical man-month has been replaced by the incredibly real drop-in nature of software building blocks. An app — and this is nowhere more true than in consumer mobile apps — that needs mapping can drop it in, another that needs messaging, payments, sharing, etc, can do likewise. The old asexual reproduction of hardware has been surpassed by the banging together of software, even genetic engineering to introduce advantageous genes from other domains. Not to belittle the hard work of software engineering, but it seems an order of magnitude easier than senior developers today went through.
The walled-garden people were disrupted by a genius one and the new little mammals of the post-Jurassic era.
Musk is certainly aware of these and other shifts, but TBH, the sharing economy, the gig economy, the Kickstarter financing model: these are small potatoes in the world of global automobiles. The question is whether Musk can somehow leverage software in a business that still depends inevitably on hardware, hardware that Tesla seems to have put very little effort into understanding how it can be done twice as well for half the cost.