Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

Editorial: Technological Evolution in Society - the Evolution of Mobile Devices

Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

Editorial: Technological Evolution in Society - the Evolution of Mobile Devices

Article excerpt

Introduction

Constant change is a fact of life, both for organisms and businesses. Just as changes in their environment alters the form of successive generations of organisms over time, changing market conditions cause businesses to adapt their product and service offerings. One of the fastest changing technologies is mobile technology, directly affecting how businesses conduct their operations and the products and services they offer in the current business ecosystem. Therefore it is helpful for companies to understand the big-picture forces behind this technological change.

Thus we ask if it is possible to view technological innovation as an evolutionary process? Certainly the idea is not a new one [4], [22], however recent developments in evolutionary theory could help strengthen the relationship. Central to these advances is the notion that the influence of organisms on the environment plays a much larger role than previously imagined. Just as in biological systems, there is a large influence of technological innovation on its environment. One of the fastest changing technologies is mobile technology, directly affecting how businesses conduct their operations and the products and services they offer in the current business ecosystem. In this article we will first provide a brief overview of current evolutionary theory, then discuss this theory in the context of technological innovation through the use of recent examples in the mobile technology world.

Evolution

To frame this discussion, we must ensure that we are clear in how we define evolution. We will use the basic principles of variation, heritability, and differential survival as the basis of our discussion.

1. Variation - individuals of a species show some variation in traits, be it physical or behavioral.

2. Heritability - offspring of an individual will in some way represent that individual more than another random individual.

3. Differential survival - an individual that is better adapted to its environment has more chances of surviving and leaving offspring than one that is not.

In relation to evolution, these processes are often thought of as a one way - the evolution of organisms is a result of their environments. Organisms that have beneficial mutations leave more offspring, and their genes survive and thrive. Those that don't perish. The criteria of what is beneficial is left to the environment - organisms that have characteristics that favor their survival and the survival of their offspring are selected by the environment. However there is an increasing realization among evolutionary scientists that the organism shapes the environment as much as the environment shapes the organism. This realization can be seen in recent theoretical ideas regarding niche construction [14], the extended phenotype [6], and heritable cultural variations [10].

The end result of this feedback is that instead of looking only at the organism as the evolutionary construct, we must also look at the entire system in which the organism resides and how it is affected by the organism's activities. A biological example of these feedbacks is that of parasites and their associated host organisms [7]. There are parasites that use their host's resources lightly and sustainably, causing little long term damage to the host. However, other parasites do not do this and cause great damage to the host in the search of rapid reproduction. But there is a trade-off, for if they cause too much damage to the host, it is possible that the host may die before the parasites have a chance to be transmitted to a new host. In the later scenario, over-exploitation lessens the survival chances of the parasite, and thus it ultimately is less fit than those of its relatives that use the host's resources more prudently.

In the technological market, we can envision the producers or products as the individuals in our system, depending on our focus, and the rest forms their environment. …

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