Innovation vs. Evolution

Posted By Debbie on October 24, 2013

I’m not an Apple fan. Let me just put that out there. I was on Mac from 1989 until 1996. Been on Windows since, and I’m very happy. I’m all Android, and very happy.

One recurring “debate” I have with Apple fans tends to be, “But Apple is so innovative!”

Let’s Define “Innovate”

Innovate’s a great word that means what it says. It’s got the Latin root “novus” in there, as in something new. So it means to make something new… a new idea, a new method. It has to be really new to be innovative.

The first person or company to do that. That’s the innovator. Everybody else is the copycat, improver, perfecter, impostor.

Something innovative would make you say, “Wow! This is not like things that came before!”

I didn’t find iOS 7 to be innovative. I recognised a lot from Andoid 4.x. I’ve been predicting for some time the Androidification of Apple stuff, and iOS 7 was a nice, obvious step in that direction.

If It’s Not Innovative, It’s Probably Just The Next Evolution

So when Apple announces their new phone will be a micrometer thinner, use the newer, faster processor that’s out, have another megapixel in the camera, and come in Pantone 342, that’s not innovation. That’s not SO unlike everything that came before that it’s truly new and revolutionary.

That’s product evolution. I expect that when a company comes out with the next product for sale, it will be better than the last product they sold.

And then the question becomes for what the new product has improved, it is worth the new, top dollar price? I’ve started to notice tech blogs suggesting that Apple needs to innovate or seriously cut prices.

Seth Godin Once Said…

I once heard or read something from Seth Godin that was about the Microsoft Zune music player. He basically said if you know the iPod is (at the time) the biggest music player, and you are NOT developing an iPod killer… if people will NOT throw their iPod away to get the Zune, then what are you doing?

I tend to feel that way about Apple products. I rarely think the new ones are so amazing that you should run and throw away (or sell) your old ones. Sure, it’s NICE to have the newest, but the iPhone 5 wasn’t an iPhone 4 killer. Lots of people are happy with their iPhone 4.

And maybe that’s why the iPhone 5’s sales were generally considered “disappointing.” It wasn’t enough to get people to drop Android, throw away non-smartphones, or upgrade from earlier iPhones.

What’s Innovative?

As a Samsung Galaxy Android fan girl, I see a number of things I think are innovative. Samsung has been showing off a paper thin screen that can bend. Well, holy cats, I haven’t seen that on any devices yet. So that’s innovative to me!

My current and recent Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets have a feature where you can multitask and run two apps on the screen at one. You can share the screen or you can do a sort of picture in picture. I don’t see anything else doing that. I remember when iOS stopped playing my music because I opened up another app. Couldn’t multitask at all. Samsung is doing something fresh with multitasking.

Disney has a robot that can play catch with you. That’s innovative.

There are innovations out there. I don’t see them from Apple. So next time they release a new product, and you write about how innovative it is, I’m going to challenge you. Luckily, I’ve noticed people using that word less and less with Apple… because they know.