Subba’s Serendipitous moments

June 13, 2007

Innovation at Apple

Filed under: Business,Innovation,Leadership,Model — Subbaraman Iyer @ 9:13 am
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The Economist has a great article on Apple and its model for innovation. Clearly some aspects of Apple’s innovation model stands out.

In fact, its real skill lies in stitching together its own ideas with technologies from outside and then wrapping the results in elegant software and stylish design.

Second, Apple illustrates the importance of designing new products around the needs of the user, not the demands of the technology.

Listening to customers is generally a good idea, but it is not the whole story. For all the talk of “user-centric innovation” and allowing feedback from customers to dictate new product designs, a third lesson from Apple is that smart companies should sometimes ignore what the market says it wants today.

The fourth lesson from Apple is to “fail wisely”.

While one can never deny that Apple can be counted as amongst the top innovation companies, they have been using a proprietary innovation model right from the beginning to their most recent product — the iPhone. Clearly a lot of developers have been asking that iPhone be opened up so that third party applications can be developed. Apple very deftly managed to side step the issue, by just launching Safari (the web browser) on the Windows platform. Developer access to the iPhone would be through the Safari, rather than releasing a iPhone SDK.

For one, the Web may be a better platform for application development, but by not opening up the iPhone SDK, the applications may not be multi-threaded and may even run slowly.

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  1. Unfortunately, the reality is not a dichotomy: it is not a simple choice of open versus closed. The strategic challenge facing Apple (and Microsoft and RIM for that matter) is what to ‘open’ up to complementors and when to do so. If Blackberry had decided to make its app available to Windows-Mobile much earlier than May 2007, it may have failed as a platform but may have succeeded as a module. Safari is a way for Apple to ensure seamless connection between computers (Pcs and Macs) and iphone. I think the mistake most people make is to confuse the number of third-party applications with the quality of applications that users really want and use.

    Comment by N. Venkatraman — June 13, 2007 @ 8:10 pm | Reply

  2. […] crowdsourced its innovation. Apple built an innovation value chain in-house. Both models were successful. Yet I think at the core there is a deep philosophical conflict which […]

    Pingback by Google and Apple are now confirmed rivals | Expanding Thought — June 28, 2011 @ 7:47 pm | Reply

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