The first time I heard this term used was on the Gillmor Gang podcast, only they called it Vendor Sports, not Vector Sports. But they might as well be the same thing. Because if you want to understand where a company is going, you have to understand where they came from. Because companies, like everything big (think steam ships, trains, space ships) get going in a given direction and take a long time to stop and are hard to turn.
This came up at the discussion at Mesh (I should do more conference sessions, they give me a lot of fodder for my web writing) last month. There were some smart nice and well-intentioned people who questioned whether Twitter was a competitor of news organizations. True, today they probably aren't competitors. I think of two products as competitive if by using one I'm not very likely to use the other (some people get one of everything from everyone, they don't count in determining if products compete). That's the static view of a company and its products. In a vector view, as if they were a steam ship or rocket ship, you'd think of products as competing if they were on a path to competing at some point in the not-too-distant future. So in that sense Twitter and news orgs are, imho, competitive. There's no future for Twitter, that I can see, that does not have them offering a largely indistinguishable product from what the news orgs provide (remembering that they too are vectors, and not static unmoving entities).
BTW, the picture is interesting because it too shows a vector. The child is Patrick Scoble, and the picture was taken ten years ago, in 2002. Patrick was then, as he is now, a vector (as well as a really cute kid and a bit of a wiseass). Today, the kid isn't so cute anymore, unless I guess if you're a teenage girl, in which case I imagine you might see it differently. He's a strapping young man, a high school graduate, honors student, and way way too serious. (Just kidding, all the adults who know him are super proud of the excellent young man he has become.)
When I wrote this piece in July of last year, a lot of people said I was wrong, that Apple, Google and Amazon weren't on their way to becoming banks. I didn't see how they could not become banks. Again, assuming that the direction they're heading in is where they are actually going, because each of these companies, while nimble for their size, are so large that they really can't change course quickly or easily. The best they can hope for is to fool some number of people, but if their competitors are smart, they aren't being fooled one bit. In the case of banks, however, I doubt that they're that smart, that they see Apple's cash hoard (or cash cache, heh) as some kind of threat.