How quickly do you become the incumbent to be disrupted?

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Today, IDG posted an article that Steve Jobs was looking at using unlicensed WiFi spectrum to create a direct competitor to mobile carriers. Although the effort failed, many viewed this as another proof that Jobs, as always, needed to control the entire experience.

My take is somewhat different. Mobile phones have only really been around for 20+ years, and digital mobile telephony and mobile data for far less than that. Yet, the large carriers are second only to cable companies in the bottom of the rankings for customer satisfaction, and apparently even Steve Job was thinking about how to disrupt them.

There is no question that they are ripe for disruption. Their pricing is sometimes high, but not absurdly so, except in overage charges and roaming. But their customer interaction is begging to put them out of business. I am sorry that Jobs could not get it done, but it is only a matter of time until someone finds a way to do it without the technical hurdles and massive capital currently required.