Cowen & Company is an investment banking firm that focuses on a number of sectors, including Health Care, Technology, Media & Telecommunications, Consumer, Aerospace & Defense, and Alternative Energy. The firm recently published a report titled Best of 2007 Disruptive Innovation Awards which reports on the most disruptive and innovative products and services in the consumer sector. Cowen’s panel of judges voted using two criteria:
- Those products most likely to have a disruptive influence on the technology landscape in 2008
- Those products whose disruptive influence is inadequately appreciated by the investment community.
The report listed the following winners:
- Samsung’s Storage Drives: All-flash, solid state storage drives for PCs establishing a new product category whose
inevitable adoption has extremely positive implications for chip and chip equipment makers. See press release here
- The OLPC XO laptop: The first mass market personal computer with a price point of just $200. The consortium behind One Laptop per Child (see website for more information) has created a brilliant fully featured system that only excludes two things familiar to most PC users: Microsoft Windows and Microsoft applications.
- The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, From Edison to Google by Nick Carr – Synopsis: the utility computing era has arrived; internal corporate IT operations will now face substantial external competition. According to Cowen, this book is the best bet to be the most influential tech business book of the next 12 months. See more info on the book here.
- Digital-to-analog set top box converters: Poised to be the #1 growth category in consumer electronics in 2008. With the coming DTV transition, 14 MM antenna-only US TV households will have cable quality reception without paying a cable bill. For more background on set top boxes, go here
- Apple’s iPhone: The most hyped product launch in ages, but with under-appreciated disruptive potential for two reasons:
- Research in Motion: due to all but inevitable enterprise support for the iPhone in 2008, and
- Verizon and other wireless service providers whose practices of providing walled garden internet service and intentional crippling of desirable cell phone features are under full scale assault.
- Google Maps: My Location application (go here for more info) provides location-based services without a GPS. According to Cowen, this will help Google realize its mobile ambitions while accelerating Verizon’s descent into being just a big dumb pipe.
Cowen’s perspective of these disruptive innovations is particularly interesting since it comes from an investment banking point of view. For more information, check out this MSNBC video where Arnie Berman, chief technology strategist at Cowen and Co. reviews the best disruptive innovations of 2007.