Maybe we need to rethink this whole battle between disruptive innovations and incremental innovations. Why? Because Apple seems to have a lock on both, and is even disrupting what we typically refer to as market disruptions.
Incremental innovations are the basic day-to-day, model-to-model improvements. Nearly every company that competes with Apple has their own list of incremental innovations. Think larger screen or longer battery life as examples.
Here’s something Apple seems to be disrupting that others are not.
iAm Because iSaid So
Oh, before I go on, let me point out the disruptive innovations Apple has brought to the world. Unlike incremental innovations, disrupting innovations remake entire markets.
The Mac was a disrupting innovation by way of the graphic user interface. The iPod and iTunes Store disrupted the entire music industry.
There’s little question that Apple disrupted the smartphone market with the iPhone, and completely remade the tablet industry with the iPad, which also disrupted the PC industry. But that was then and this is now and so “What have you done lately, Apple?”
This week I walked from the office where I work in San Francsico and encountered half a dozen stores that use iBeacon, an Apple-built, indoor proximity system that can send messages to an iPhone user.
By way of apps and Bluetooth LE on my iPhone, the stores knew I was nearby and sent me messages. The messages themselves can be promotional, sales oriented, a welcome message, or pretty much anything, but what’s important is that iBeacon is a proximity sensor system with great potential.
The Key Is Proximity Sensing
Where you are and what you’re doing is about to get a dose of disruptive innovation, Apple style. Think of the possibilities when the network nearest you knows you’re there and may even know who you are.
Not only can businesses send you welcome messages, notifications, alerts and alarms and plain old sales information targeted at you while you walk by, but Apple could use iBeacons as a point-of-sale system so targeted it knows who you are, has your credit card number on file, so you can buy without whipping out the checkbook, wallet, or purse.
Wait. There’s more.
iBeacon in the home could be used with an Apple developed wearable device to know where you are all the time (And it could work in the office, too– “Computer, where on the Enterprise is Captain Picard?“), and, as you navigate from room to room, the iBeacon sensors could unlock and open doors, set lighting (or turn it off as you put your iDevice to rest for the night), tell you what’s on TV, what’s been saved to the DVR, and even let you know you’re running late for your meeting or dinner date.
For the moment, Apple’s iBeacon technology delivers messages at Apple Stores, and a few businesses here and there are testing it on promotions, sales, and other mostly innocuous messages. But this is a technology to know and love, and Apple could well disrupt how we shop and how we manage life at home and work– all with proximity sensors tied to apps and a worldwide network. I see iBeacon capability in wearable devices for our family members so we know where they are (or, their last location).
But then I think of Skynet, get a shiver, and turn my iPhone off.