The innovation paradox
We all want innovation but are we prepared to pay for it?
Real innovation means breaking with convention. It means breaking rules, interfaces and compatibility. In the long run it means devaluing a users investment, either financially in terms of software incompatbility or time wise in terms of learning and acquiring new knowledge.
Wherever there is real innovation, it always comes at a high price. The paradox of all this is that users ask for innovation but in reality want the safety of convention. They say they want a great new interface but complain about all the features that are deprecated in the process. Can we really have our cake and eat it to?
Convention in the tech industry comes when there is a dominant force and standard to adhere to. Convention is often the result of safety in numbers where everyone does slight variations on the same thing. Tech enthusiasts want innovation yet a great of deal of them favour the OEM model which in reality can be very "anti-innovation".
There have been many innovative products over the years that have died a death fighting the "convention". Palm OS, BEOS etc.. These products break the rules in order to move foreward yet are swamped by the "safety in numbers" mentality of users and vendors. Apple is championed because they seem to have found a way to be different and survive. Even now with Windows 8 looming commentators are predicting the death of Apple, just as they did with the rise of Android. Yet, I find it interesting that these commentators pour scorn on Apple's business model in favour of the OEM model and talk about being "innovative" in the same breath.
The reality is innovation does not come from group think, or mass compatibility, or 95% market share.. it actually comes from doing things differently to the masses. Thats the whole point. You cant follow convention and be innovative. And you cant be innovative without paying the price of losing your safety blanket. I think Apple die-hards understand this and accept it. The rest of the world doesnt get it, and I doubt ever will.