If today’s tech media headlines are to be believed then Apple is once again beleaguered and every other tech company has become an innovator while Apple seems immobilized and stuck in a technology ditch somewhere.
The Wall Street Journal says Apple needs to be more like Samsung (which would leave Apple with lower smartphone sales, and less profit). A Microsoft executive says iOS is ‘boring.’ It goes on and on, this criticism from tech media pundits, and Apple’s competitors, including BlackBerry, and Google.
The storyline is much the same. Apple isn’t innovating anymore. True, it’s been less than a year since Apple launched the iPad mini and took over the 7-inchish tablet market from all competitors.
First, let’s look at the very definition of innovation, and then see how it applies to Apple and the company’s less-than-robust competition.
This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments, and society.
Fair enough. Apple, in the past decade or so has owned the portable media player market in the iPod, created the world’s largest online media store in iTunes, disrupted the smartphone industry with the iPhone, revolutionized how applications are distributed with the App Store, and created the post-PC era with the iPad and iPad mini (traditional PC sales are tanking as a result).
What do you think? Is that innovation or not? This also applies to innovation.
Innovation is the development of new values through solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulate needs, or old customer and market needs in value adding new ways.
Apple’s Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, as well as iCloud, App Store, and built-in apps certainly seem to add value and redefine how users, well, use their devices.
If that’s innovation, and it’s difficult to argue that it’s not, then how are Apple’s customers beating Apple at innovation?
Samsung’s S4 has a bigger screen. Is that innovation? Does anyone think Apple cannot build a bigger screen? How about more pixels in the camera? Is that innovation that disrupts the market, or is that just a bullet point feature with a different metric?
The iPhone doesn’t have NFC support but Samsung’s newest Galaxy 4S does, so Samsung is out innovating Apple, right?
What’s NFC? If I have it can I use it?
What’s going on here is that bullet point leapfrog is being confused for innovation. When Apple releases a new iPhone, it’s usually smaller, lighter, faster, better than the current line of competitors. Half a year later, when Samsung, BlackBerry, or Google and Microsoft release something new– bullet point leapfrog– it’s heralded as more innovative than Apple’s latest.
A bigger screen or a faster CPU or more RAM or plastic case or odds and ends software gimmicks do not innovation make. Innovation disrupts. That’s what Apple does. That’s not what Samsung, BlackBerry, Google or Microsoft et al do.
Their form of innovation is to change the definition to mean bullet point leapfrog because that’s the only way they can out innovate Apple.