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Weblog:   Apple As Innovator
Subject:   According to another Expert, Apple is not an innovator
Date:   2003-05-31 18:17:19
From:   timoreilly
Response to: According to another Expert, Apple is not an innovator

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.

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  • 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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