"How does a man go broke? It is gradually and then it is suddenly!" Hemingway.
If you think about it you've got to agree with Hemingway famous statement. But then, you can start to ponder on the fact that apparently impossibile attributes, like gradual and sudden, can indeed go hand in hand and in several other fields as well.
Like in technology evolution. Technology may spring in a lab but it is little more than an idea with a rough demonstration that, at that stage, has no chance to succeed. Then it slowly evolves and sometimes it becomes mainstream. In a fewer cases this evolution leads to a revolution and that usually happens in a very short time, almost suddenly if compared to the evolution time.
Take the iPad. It comes from the nineties (remember Newton? It was back in 1993, or even 1991 if you take the birth of the idea). But it required a long evolution in terms of battery, electronics, display and software to really hit the market. And when it did all happened very fast. In just one year the number of copycats was staggering, the penetration of tablet was the fastest to date and, more importantly, it changed the way people accessed and used the Internet. For the first time looking at a rep ice in the kitchen made sense and actually became "normal". And that was revolutionary (by the way, Steve Jobs in his iPad presentation called thee device "revolutionary" and although some of us relegated the expression among the marketing hype he was right.
I would say that some of the evolutions happening today, like SDN, Software Defined Networking, and ambient awareness are in the same league. Give them 6 more years and they will set up the stage for a completely different decade.
If you are interested in listening to other potential evolutions becoming revolution listen to the interview to Andrew McAfeee and Ray Kurzweil about the disappearance of jobs....