Apple and the art of innovation [Opinion]

Apple and the art of innovation [Opinion]

I’m going to start with a sentence that makes me wonder where time had gone. Was it really only three years ago yesterday that Steve Jobs announced a product that would ultimately change the way we communicate?


The answer is, of course, yes. Like the iPhone, there were other tablets before the iPad. However, for me, the iPad was the first to take a product with such massive potential and make it so that the general public would want it. Apple made it friendly, they innovated and used their tight software and hardware integration to make it feel truly special. It’s led to great things, further innovation and for many a new item in the ever expanding technology toolkit.

It also led to more companies innovating off the back of the iPad. The key word there is innovating. Not copying (although some tablets do come very close), but a new take on the basic concept of a medium sized touchscreen – for, boiled down, that is what the iPad is. Innovation is channeled by what the innovator has seen before, it always has been and will always continue to be. Although out and out copying is to be discouraged, sometimes it happens – either inadvertently or by a less-than-scrupulous design team.

Let’s start with the iPad, for example. It actually was conceptualised before the iPhone, but they both share the operating system iOS. iOS was originally based on the same Unix core as OSX, with some similar features such as Cocoa as a UI layer. OSX shared several principles with OS9 and earlier, although re-imagined (another form of innovation). Follow the Mac OS trail back and you get to the original release – which, as a lot of people know, was a derivative (to put it lightly) of the Xerox PARC system. Either way, this reversed innovation trail shows us that, well, everything is a remix.

There is a web series, funnily enough, of the same name that explains this pretty well including examples from Led Zeppelin (always a bonus). It’s well worth a watch to see how ideas formulate over time.

Either way, my point is that an idea doesn’t have to be strictly original to innovate. Innovation comes in a number of forms – and I believe that whilst anyone can innovate, it takes a different kind of person to put that into action and try and make a success out of it. The square pegs in round holes, the misfits, the troublemakers. Those who, to use that oh-so-common phrase, “Think Different”.

Here’s the thing: you can become one of those people. It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you come from, but today, go on out there and innovate. Change the world of the people around you and have fun whilst doing it.

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  • Uncle Bob

    If you look in the Oxford English Dictionary, you’ll find that ‘Apple and the art of innovation’ Is the actual definition of an Oxymoron…….

  • Pete

    Looks like Apple coverage is going to be poor now that Jamie Ryan has left. 2 opinion pieces in the last few days both well wide of the mark and obviously trying too hard.

    • I’d be intrigued as to which part of my post you thought I was trying too hard? I had an opinion (hence the opinion part of the title) and I expressed it. I wasn’t trying to convince anyone of anything, I just wanted to write about innovation with a focus on Apple.

      • Pete

        Both posts are trying too hard as a whole to be relevant. This is your opinion but you r not saying anything we didn’t already know. It would have been more timely 3 years ago when all of this happened rather than now.

        • I was writing a reflective piece based on the fact that three years ago yesterday Steve Jobs introduced the iPad. Whilst some of the concepts mentioned in this article have been around for a while, I felt it would be a good subject to write about given the recent anniversary. It wasn’t a case of inherently trying to be relevant (although I can see how you thought that may be the case), it was more a case of “here is the anniversary, here is my point with context regarding that anniversary, here is what I think about that point”.

          I have a certain amount of journalistic licence with regards to what I can write on this site, and I utilised that during this post. I am sorry that you feel that a) Apple coverage will be poor after one of our team left, and that b) this piece would have been more timely three years ago – unfortunately, I wasn’t writing three years ago so I couldn’t possibly get that to happen without the aid of a time machine! With regards to the “poor” Apple coverage, let me assure you that our team will continue our Apple coverage in the same way that we write about any other manufacturer or operating system. Just because one writer leaves doesn’t mean that an entire company will just disappear from coverage on this site!

          • Pete

            There’s no such thing as journalistic license. Journalists are supposed to report the truth. This is an op-ed at best, not a piece of journalism.

            With regards to the guy who left, you only have to listen to the podcast to see how biased everyone is. Whose going to stick up for Apple now? Nobody else has shown the same passion as Jamie.

          • Fair enough, journalistic licence was probably the wrong term. What I meant was that I am free to write what I want within reason. The fact that this is quite clearly marked as an Opinion piece (both with [Opinion] in the title and op-ed in the URL) means that I am writing what I think, not cold hard fact. It’s how opinion pieces on this site have worked for a long time and I would say that they would continue in the future.

            We have writers using pretty much every major mobile platform on here, with several using iOS devices. I don’t think our podcast is biased – indeed, if you listen to Episode 31 a lot of it is very pro-Apple. We try to give Apple the same amount of attention as everyone else and although our writing can be sometimes weighted be towards Android (due to a lot of our site’s writers using Android as their main mobile OS) we do try to balance it out. Jamie did front a lot of our Apple coverage, but the same levels of Apple coverage will still be maintained despite his move away from Coolsmartphone.