Why Apple DOES Drive Innovation- Just Not in the Way You Think!
This is a very long response to the forum post Why Apple Doesn't Drive Innovation and Why That's Okay.
Let me preface this by the fact that I'm 15 years old - and consider myself a fan of true innovation. At this moment in time, I'm using an iPhone 4S - even though I know there are better features available on an Android phone - I regularly use ICS on an old Epic 4G - it's a good OS.
Begin Article -
Let's talk about innovation. According to Wikipedia - "An innovator in a general sense, is a person or an organization who is one of the first to introduce into reality something better than before. That often opens up a new area for others and achieves an innovation."
"A person... who is one of the first to introduce into reality something better than before"
We can all agree about the important innovators of all time. On the "list" of accepted innovators are names such as Thomas Edison, Isaac Newton, Nokia Tesla, Henry Ford, and the Wright Brothers. To put it simply - nothing comes from nothing. Everything has shared "core", if you will. Henry Ford certainly didn't invent the automobile - nor did he invent the assembly line. What he did, however, is introduce a new way of building automobiles that allowed for the average person to experience the truly amazing invention of the automobile.
In the original article, it was argued that "Apple 2.0" or the "Post-Steve-Jobs-Era" Apple isn't a real innovator anymore, and that simply isn't true. Steve Jobs was a man of controversy, but it is nearly impossible to say that he wasn't an innovator. His genius didn't lie in his ability to write code or build computers, but rather in his ability to package others' ideas and concepts into a usable and truly extraordinary product. He goal was to surround himself with extraordinary people so he could tie their strengths together without their flaws. This is different from driving adoption of others' innovation. Steve created new products, an idea really, of total digital integration. Now that Steve is gone, Apple is going to face a period of transformation. Apple isn't driving adoption now - they are still driving innovation. The retina display in the iPad is much more revolutionary than evolutionary - it its much more than just screen resolution. The concept of a 10" slab that looks like a backlight page that you can interact with is much more than the previous 10" slab computer.
The innovation that is coming out of Apple is the same type of innovation that has always come out of their doors. It isn't a list of specifications that beats all competitors, or a computer that is slimmer than all of the other competitors - it's an experience that leads to the products becoming a virtual extension of your body and mind. The iPad isn't about the display or the software - it isn't a tool in the conventional sense. The iPad is about what you are doing on it - the things you love to do. It's the reason why the retina display is amazing - it breaks down the subconscious "computer" barrier between what you and what you are doing by being so detailed that you cannot distinguish individual pixels.
"it breaks down the subconscious computer barrier between what you and what you are doing"
The retina display in the Next Generation MacBook Pro extends that idea into the traditional laptop - removing the barrier between you and doing what you love.
The reason why we may not see Apple as the revolutionary center of innovation as we once did is that Apple is in a much better environment than it was 5, 10 or 20 years ago.
20-30 years ago the computer didn't exist for most people. It was a big, loud, clunky machine that lived in universities, or was a hard-to-assemble DIY kit. The Apple II changed all that, being the first fully-assembled personal computer, inspiring a huge industry of competitors.
The Personal Computer was extremely broken 13 years ago - Windows was a horrible mess, Mac OS was in the dumps, and for most people there was no way to do the totally awesome things computers could do because the interfaces and UX of most of the machines was incredibly broken. Mac OS X, the iBook and the iMac changed all that. They were simple, small and extremely easy to use. They also pushed Windows to shape up into what it is today.
5 Years ago, Smartphones were becoming mainstream - and they all stunk. They were big, there screens were tiny, and they used expensive plans. Then the iPhone changed all that. It also pushed Android into existence. (I know, I know - but you can't say that Android would be as good as it is if the iPhone didn't popularize multi-touch and a smartphone for the masses.)
Apple is innovating - in many cases far more than ever - but we just can't see it because of how good things are right now.
Respond as you see fit - I'd love to hear your responses and I hope to write a follow-up article