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The emergence and evolution of a disruptive platform ecosystem: evidence from the Indian mobile services industry


The successful emergence of a disruptive platform in a contested industry is fraught with many challenges. The extant literature focuses on the challenges faced by the established platforms or the growth and inception of regular platforms, highlighting the need for understanding the dilemmas faced by a entrant disruptive platform. Our study sheds light on this phenomenon in an exploratory in-depth case study analysing the emergence of Jio Platform, an India based green-field platform providing mobile and digital services. Our analysis charts the disruptor's actions to navigate challenges posed by the incumbents and its own advanced technology. We demonstrate that the disruptive entrant initiated three strategic actions to overcome its ‘disruptor’s dilemma’: active market development for complement products, using strong complementors as force multipliers and effective usage of framing to secure legitimacy and support. The analysis also highlights how the strategy adopted by Jio evolved over time, as well as the difficulties of mapping this onto the existing understanding of the literature. By focusing on the intersection of the platform and disruptive innovation literature we identify managerial implications and a source of propositions for researchers, investigating the growth of the disruptive platform and its impact on the ecosystem.

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Source: TRAI (2016a)

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Source: TRAI (2020)


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The authors are grateful to the anonymous reviewers whose valuable advice helped improve the quality of this article. All errors are the responsibility of the authors.

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Mukhopadhyay, S., Whalley, J. The emergence and evolution of a disruptive platform ecosystem: evidence from the Indian mobile services industry. Electron Markets (2021).

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  • Disruptive platform
  • Ecosystem
  • Complementors
  • Force multiplier
  • Framing
  • Digital services
  • India

JEL classification

  • L86
  • D4
  • O3