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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