The Life Cycle of Converging Industries: The Evolution of the Tablet Sector and Its Impact on Competitive Dynamics

  •  Paolo Calvosa    


Background of the study. In recent years a series of academic research projects in the economic managerial field have investigated the relationship between innovation and industrial evolution, providing new interpretive keys to improve the understanding of one of the most important events in the industries’ transformation in the current economy, that of digital convergence.

Purpose of the paper and methodology. This research work provides an original contribution to the question of how market convergence affects industry evolution. The paper analyzes the convergence process that has influenced the evolution of the tablet sector and the dynamics of entry, exit, innovation and competition over the industry life cycle. From a methodological point of view, a historical-longitudinal study was carried out, which was aimed at examining – supported by a qualitative/quantitative analysis – the sequence of events that, over 30 years, influenced the development of the tablet industry.

Findings and implications. From the analysis some interesting findings emerged. Firstly, it was found that the life cycle curve of the converging tablet industry defined on the basis of sales data followed the ‘S-shaped pattern’ empirically detected by product and industry life cycle studies. Secondly, we have verified that the evolution of firm population and the level of product innovation in the tablet industry are consistent with two temporal patterns that characterize the evolutionary model, identified by evolutionary economics and technology management studies. It has also been found that the sectoral convergence process has affected the dynamics of competition in the tablet industry. It emerged, in fact, that the leading companies in introductory stages of the development of the tablet market – which came from the personal computer industry – quickly lost their market position in favor to newcomer firms that came from different converging sectors. The analysis has also made it possible to highlight that tablet market leaders tend to compete with each other in multiple sectors within the scope of a broader convergent mobile digital device market. Therefore, a ‘hybrid competition’ seems to have been affirmed between technological devices – smartphones, notebooks, tablets, smartwatches, e-readers – different in shape, but united by satisfying, in different ways, a need for simplified access on the move to a series of advanced digital functions and services.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.