Weblog:   Apple As Innovator
Subject:   According to another Expert, Apple is not an innovator
Date:   2003-05-29 17:40:49
From:   anonymous2
Tim O'Reilly:

Surprise, surprise. So when should Apple port Mac OS X to Intel? Why didn't you comment on Apple's innovation in _colors_?

While it seems Apple has been having trouble seeing the value in its own technologies*, every day some expert talks up an insignificant "buzz" technology (Jini) and completely ignores an Apple technology that worked so well it was almost invisible.

Rendezvous is simply a translation of the AppleTalk ethos into a TCP environment using broadcasting protocols.

Microsoft fills its glass houses with enough megalomaniacs and PHD's to bury innovative developers, then it innovates via press release.

Sean Broderick

* How could anyone justify omitting AppleScript terms when upgrading an application--forcing users to rewrite scripts or an obsolete version? Compare old and new versions of Disk Copy.

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  • According to another Expert, Apple is not an innovator
    2003-05-29 17:54:20  anonymous2 [View]

    I'm not sure what you're responding to. I thought I was saying that Apple *is* an innovator, though more of an innovator in driving technology forward to the market than necessarily in *inventing* that technology.

    But you seem to be reading everything I said backwards. I was talking up Rendezvous rather than Jini, precisely because "it works so well it [is] almost invisible."

    So I think we're in violent agreement, except about tone of voice.

    Tim O'Reilly
    • According to another Expert, Apple is not an innovator
      2003-08-06 22:17:53  anonymous2 [View]

      One word: QuickTime.

      -Mark Anderson
    • According to another Expert, Apple is not an innovator
      2003-05-31 08:00:16  anonymous2 [View]

      Tim O'Reilly:

      You're correct about the tone, and I apologize, but only because I value your place in the industry. To be a vital commentator on Apple, however, would require you demonstrate more knowledge of their contributions.

      Overlooking AppleTalk when talking about simple local networking is akin to believing Bill Gates invented the PC. In the context of this interview, it's irritating, but if you were the journalist, it would be sin.

      Lots of journalists and pundits are in need of penance for their discussions and commentary on Apple.

      A few points:
      1) Analysts constantly misrepresent Apple's business and discount its leadership.
      2) Apple is a hardware *and* software company, and has made significant contributions to the computing field in both roles.
      3) The Next team brought some valuable technology to Apple, but there has also been some regrettable not-invented-at-Next nonsense (hence, the bile and anger over the treatment of AppleScript).

      While it is true Apple often drives technology adoption (USB), it also invents on a regular basis (Firewire).

      So overlooking tone, we agree that Apple is an innovator, but you relegate that role to market innovator, i.e. Rendezvous being a rarity. As a hardware engineer programming on the Mac OS platform, I disagree, and maintain Apple is also a technology innovator.

      While Macworld magazine might not be a worth your time overall, I think you should look at its new back page "The Big Picture" by Matt Deatherage. He also publishes a journal, see Macjournals.com.

      Thank you for praising Rendezvous in a context most developers and users new to the platform will understand. It's great fun showing someone its magic.

      I hope you can spare some empathy for Apple partisans ;)

      Sean Broderick
      • According to another Expert, Apple is not an innovator
        2003-06-05 04:08:47  anonymous2 [View]

        I'm not sure that Sean and I were reading the same article.
      • Tim O'Reilly photo According to another Expert, Apple is not an innovator
        2003-05-31 18:17:19  Tim O'Reilly | O'Reilly AuthorO'Reilly Blogger [View]

        I still think you're reading a lot into my message because of things you wish I'd said. I stand by my main point, which is that Apple's greatest innovations have been in putting together existing technologies in such a way as to make them *desirable*, and so they have helped to create new markets.

        This isn't to say that there aren't lots of small technological innovations along the way. But heck, Microsoft also has made lots of small technological innovations. But Apple's genius is in seeing a greater whole in the sum of possible parts.
        • According to another Expert, Apple is not an innovator
          2003-06-01 10:15:28  anonymous2 [View]

          Ummm, right. Apple 'innovates' iTunes and a viable online music delivery service. Microsoft 'innovates' iLoo.
          • Tim O'Reilly photo According to another Expert, Apple is not an innovator
            2003-06-01 13:10:11  Tim O'Reilly | O'Reilly AuthorO'Reilly Blogger [View]

            It's easy to bash Microsoft, and I've done more than my share of it. But they have also done some neat things. To give one little-noticed example, but a personal favorite: In Windows 98 and later, you can have a command-line right on the Taskbar (the windows equivalent of the dock.) It's called the Address Toolbar. And I find that terrifically useful. I wish Mac OS X had such a feature.

            And of course, Microsoft's biggest innovation was in business model -- leveraging OEM channels to the max to get the upper hand on an entire industry. But they also make lots of small advances that do add up. They did a huge amount to create a layer of consistency over the jungle of incompatible hardware that the PC market represents. The problem they've been trying to solve is much harder than the problem Apple solves, controlling both hardware and software together.

            And heck, we all like to point out that Microsoft didn't invent the internet, but (as a point of comparison) they brought it to the masses more urgently than Apple did. Is that different from what Apple did with desktop publishing, or is now doing with digital media?

            Has Apple done more *interesting* innovation over the years? Absolutely. It's been coming out of their pores lately. From Digital Photography to online music, they are way ahead of the pack.

            But I stick by my original comments. Apple didn't *invent* most of the things that they are now popularizing. They just put them together perfectly in a package that inspires users to want them, and to know what to do with them.

            I'd love to get away from "either-or" thinking. Loving what Apple or the open source community is doing doesn't make me hate everything that Microsoft does. Let's celebrate the good stuff whereever we find it!

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