Apple has long been considered, and rightfully so, a technology innovator but some detractors think the company has lost its edge because, well, ‘What have you done for me lately?‘ Anyone who thinks that loosely doesn’t understand innovation and doesn’t understand Apple’s history. Let’s do a quick comparison and history lesson.
Innovation, My Way
First, let’s take a look at Apple’s recent history regarding the kind of innovation that changes the entire landscape of an industry segment.
The Mac itself was an innovative device, derived from the Lisa, beget by a few fortuitous visits to the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center by Steve Jobs and company.
Innovative? Industry changer? The Mac’s graphical user interface became the standard when adopted by Microsoft and bolted on top of DOS in Windows.
Apple’s iPod was a portable media player that, when combined with the iTunes Music Store, took over the world (and still owns a huge chunk of the industry).
Was there a music store like the iTunes Music Store? Competitors came and went but nobody but Apple moved the bar forward (TV shows, movies purchases and rentals).
Mac, iPod, iTunes. Apple’s innovation changed industries. More recently, the iPhone became the standard bearer for smartphones. Most smartphones today, including Samsung’s, are modeled after Apple’s iconic device.
What of the tablet market? Apple didn’t invent it, obviously, but the iPad set a new standard for tablet devices with lower price, higher quality, longer battery life, Wi-Fi, cellular and apps. Again, an Apple device upended an entire industry.
Therein lies the key to comparing Apple’s innovations with Samsung. Apple changes industries. Samsung copies.
Innovation is often described thusly, but this doesn’t help the argument.
innovation |ˌinəˈvāSHən| noun
the action or process of innovating
innovational |-SHənl | adjective
Let’s back up and use the word innovate, see how it applies, then dig a little deeper into the meaning.
innovate |ˈinəˌvāt| verb
make changes in something established, esp. by introducing new methods, ideas, or products
Now we’re getting somewhere. By switching to the verb, both Apple and Samsung are easily defined as innovators.
From a thesaurus.
change, alteration, revolution, upheaval, transformation, metamorphosis, breakthrough; new measures, new methods, modernization, novelty, newness; creativity, originality, ingenuity, inspiration, inventiveness; a shake up
Now we’re really getting somewhere. Apple’s versions of innovation through the years bring about industry-wide change, alters the course of the industry with a revolution, an upheaval of players, and a transformation of the status quo.
That defines Apple, no?
Does the same kind of innovation apply to Samsung in areas where it competes with Apple? No. Samsung is content to try anything by throwing dozens to hundreds of products into a market to see what sticks. And, Samsung balances that shotgun approach by stealing technology from competitors and laboriously copying from industry leaders up to and including customers.
That defines Samsung, no?
Of course it does. Apple innovates to change an industry, then iterates thousands of improvements to the product and user experience. Samsung slavishly copies industry leaders, then cheapens manufacturing to commoditize products, and, of course, cares little about user experience.
You know I’m right.