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So after reading a few things here, I tried to think of something that Apple invented that was a big innovation, ground breaking and all that.

My first thought was "Desktop Video Editing"! But really, that was already around. Apple just took it and made it easier and more accessable, brought it to the mainstream.

Then I thought Bluetooth syncing with cell phones!, but again, Apple didn;t make bluetooth, I couldnt even find their name on the Bluetooth website until a few months ago, and it wasn't that there wasn't bluetooth phones around, there just wasn't many of them. Apple didn't innovate, they just adopted it faster than everyone else.

What's my point? Despite opinions to the contrary (which I am sure I am about to be hit with), Apple doesn't really innovate a whole lot, they just take cool things, wrap them in a brushed metal GUI and get them out the door first, and then Steve goes on stage and says "We are constantly innovating".

Thoughts?

--PB
 

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IEEE-1394a/b - FireWire.
 

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Quicktime.
 

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Apple does innovate, but the key to their success has really more to do with clear vision, and the ability to realise potential for new technologies.

A few quick Apple innovations:

- Graphical, object-oriented user interface. (No, it wasn't stolen from Xerox; definitely inspired, but the end result was far more advanced.)

- Realtime-composited graphics system making full use of transparency and scaling.

- Speaking/listening user interface built into OS

And let's not forget the Apple II:

- First floppy disk controller with four microchip design.

- Colour graphics on personal computer
 

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I think there are a lot of innovations that Apple has brought to personal computing:

</font>
  • Although Xerox technically was the developer of the Desktop analogy, Apple bought and took the idea and really expanded the concept much further than Xerox could have hoped.</font>
  • Desktop aside, their GUI implementation is another innovation others have tried to copy as well as Drag and Drop.</font>
  • The mouse (which I think ties in well with the GUI. There's a little know tidbit that Win users' mice tend to be replaced every 1-2 years or so, while Mac users' mice live up to approx. 5+ years -- it's hypothesized that the better GUI on Macs allow for longer mice usage.)</font>
  • Color -- Apple was the first personal computer to offer colour monitors (1977).</font>
  • Plug and Play expansion (ie NuBus in 1987) which allowed users to install hardward and configure it totally with software.</font>
  • Quicktime (as stated above), QTVR, Conferencing</font>
  • Integrated Television (1993) Apple released the Macintosh TV, the first personal computer with built-in television and stereo CD.</font>
  • RISC (1994) PowerPC processor</font>
  • Firewire</font>
  • OpenDoc</font>
  • Popup folders</font>
  • Airport (Wireless made easy)</font>
  • OpenTransport</font>
  • Speech and Speech recognition</font>
  • Handwriting recognition</font>
  • Quickdraw</font>
If you want to go deeper, check out http://www.mackido.com/Innovation/

It's very informative.

That aside, sometimes innovation doesn't necessarily mean that the company in question has competely built the product at hand, or are the first to necessarily to do it... if they've exploited it or used it in a way that provides a better experience or enhances performance, I believe that consitutes innovation. As long as they don't pull a Billy Gates and just steal it and alter it to call it their own. ;)

[ June 22, 2003, 10:07 AM: Message edited by: mannyp ]
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
At what point exactly does rapid adoption or being the first to use something become innovation I guess is what I am asking; and to a lesser extent is refinement innovation?

Apple copied the graphical idea from Xerox, then refined it.

Quartz Extreme is a fairly innovative idea to a problem they were having, but wouldn't it be more innovative if they didn't need to use QE?

Apple was the first to use the mouse, but weren't the ones who invented it.

Voice recognition and text to speech are both innovative ideas, but Apple didn't create them, they just refined the idea and added it to the OS.

Quicktime and Firewire are both Apple technologies yes, but far from recent. Firewire isn't even 100% Apple's creation, and neither are PPC Processors.

At work and have to cut this short.

--PB
 

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Sorry if I seem cynical here...but, who really cares so long as it works...and works better than everyone else?

I think the real innovation is putting computers together with the right software to make people's lives easier. Apple wins hands down.

As Jeremiah Cohick puts it in his switch ad, "everything just works." Nuff said. ;)
 

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One pet peeve I have is when people say Xerox created the Desktop... Apple took/borrowed it. People need to get their facts straight:

From MacKido (http://www.mackido.com/Interface/ui_history.html):

Apple did not "rip-off" the Macs UI from Xerox. Apple had hired some people from Xerox (like Jef Raskin, Bruce Horn) who believed in concepts of a Graphical User Interface. These concepts are pretty broad -- like making a computer easier to use by using graphics (icons), using menus, windows and making a consistent interface to do things. The work on these concepts predates Xerox PARC -- in fact it was many of these peoples individual work on those concepts that got them hired at PARC. So Xerox (PARC) brought them together to refine them.

Apple's work on GUI's predates Steve Jobs visit to Palo Alto Research Center. Apple had already had the same broad goals of offering an easier to use computer, and possibly using some of the same concept (like menus, icons, and graphics).

Remember the following: Icons were not new, we had been using them for years for international street signs and so on -- they were only new on computers. Menus were not new, text based menus were being used and had been for a while. Graphics weren't new, though how much they were relied upon was new. The concepts of User Interface (Human Factors) was not new, it was just a little newer in applying it to computers.

Jef Raskin had worked at Xerox, and he was tooting the "easier to use" trumpet, with his vision of what that meant. He brought some of those ideas from Xerox, but he had brought some of those ideas TO Xerox as well. Later, he convinced Jobs to visit Xerox PARC, and Jobs became an immediate convert (for ease of use).

What Jobs saw at Xerox was a prototype Smalltalk development system. He did not see either a working ALTO or Star (which was developed much later).

Jobs was so hot on the concepts of UI, and the living Demos he say, that he, later, negotiated a deal with Xerox. He gave Xerox a large sum of stock in Apple (worth Millions if he could come back, and bring some programmers -- to inspire them more on the concepts of GUI. This was like a one-day tour. This was agreed to by Xerox, and so by no stretch of the imagination could this be called "ripping-off".

PARC was a research center -- meant to inspire development. But they did not really develop products (in the commercial sense), they developed ideas. Saying that Apple learning some of the base concepts and then applying them was "ripping-off" is like saying that Air-Bags are ripping off Newton -- because Air Bags work because they adhere to some of the laws of physics first expressed by Sir Isaac. A silly silly argument. Knowledge builds on knowledge. Xerox didn't see Apple as competition, that is why they let them in -- but they charged Apple, since Xerox believed that their research had value.
Secondly, if innovation in terms of computers is merely limited to being the sole creator, then I guess no one can be a true innovator. Apple computers are made up of components from Motorola/IBM, Maxtor, nVidia/ATI as well as various other companies. The OS as we now know it is a form of Unix.

There were computers and software before Apple, then by your opinion, Apple was never an innovator.

Apple was the first personal computer to bring desktop publishing, as well as desktop video to the masses -- which reminds me that Apple's great video editing software (among others) were bought from 3rd party developers. iMovie and Final Cut were both originated from Macromedia. Do you think the software was the same when they (Apple) bought it? Then why is that the media as well as the public applauded their genius in how they were taking desktop video to the masses? It's how they took something and made it easier/better.

The basic definition of innovation is "The act of introducing something new."

A more precise definition of innovation is A change effected by innovating; a change in customs; something new, and contrary to established customs, manners, or rites.

How can Apple not be an innovator?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Now there is a truly convincing arguement. ;)

The thing is, I have been having some Apple Hate issues lately, so this probably stems from it somewhat.

I am still a little wary on this whole Apple Innovating thing, but Apple themselves have given me a lot of stuff to think about today (the cooling system in the G4 towers is innovative for sure!).

But I am still not 100% convinced that rapid adoption is innovation. Apple's way of putting things together does make a whole lot more sense (in most cases) than pretty much everyone else.

--PB
 

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I think you are confusing innovating with inventing. They are not the same thing. Innovating is using things in a new and useful way not imagined or seen before.
 

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Hayesk read my mind... that was going to be my next post.

It's hard to convince someone what innovative things Apple has done, yet the very reason you use a Mac is probably the biggest reason why Apple is innovative:

It's easy to use.

A simple concept. But what a Mac is comprised of, are several hundred "ideas" that come together to make the Mac a, IMHO, superior product.

No one singular thing can define what "it" is that makes Macs innovative. To simply say they're easy to use is too generic or broad. To say the GUI or the architecture is what makes it easy is only part of the experience. There are so many ideas that Apple has put into the Mac over the last 25+ years that makes it difficult to specify exactly what makes them innovative.

To me, the mere fact that Microsoft has adopted and mutated a lot of these ideas after Apple, makes me believe that they are doing something right... something innovative.
 

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PosterBoy, its an interesting thread.
I think we need to not confuse the terms innovate with invent though. A car company can come out with an innovative new car design and not have to re-invent the car. Innovate means to introduce something as if for the first time.

Apple got rid of the notion a long time ago that for something to be really cool, it had to be invented at Apple. I'm really glad for this. I like Apple adopting open standards, tweaking them, wrapping them, packaging them, refining them etc... and making them better and more useful. Apple's not claiming they invented video conferencing, they're just making it better.

Don't get me wrong, Apple invents their fair share of technologies. But Apple is most definitely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a very innovative company.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I do know the difference between inventing and innovating.

What I was orignially getting at was that it seems a lot of the time when Apple invents or adopts something, their implementation of it really isn;t as innovative as some people would have you believe.

Take iChat (NOT iCHATAV) for example. I can't count how many times I heard it called innovative, and while certain features are kind of interesting there isn;t really anything I haven't seen before, it's just another IM Client.

--PB
 
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