Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 23rd Mar 2012 15:09 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless I'm currently reading Jerry Kaplan's excellent book "Startup: a Silicon Valley adventure". In this book, Kaplan, founder and CEO of GO Corp., details the founding, financing and eventual demise of his highly innovative company, including the development and workings of their product. What's so surprising about this book is just how timeless it really is - the names and products may have changed, but the business practices and company attitudes surely haven't.
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2006-01-25's just not as impressive to me as the people in the trenches - like Kaplan or the thousands of academic researchers - actually coming up with these ideas.

Coming up with ideas is quite easy - it is a purely mental exercise. In no way am I trying to minimize the importance of them, but an idea in isolation is no more than a mental construct, it has little or no value until you do something constructive with it.

Taking an idea to market involves a whole lot of work beyond the idea itself. Ideas can be judged on their merit to a degree - but there is a process involved with turning one into a product. That process and how well you do it is arguably much more important that the idea itself as far as market success goes.

The irony with Apple, imo, is that they seem to see themselves as an idea company. Even their slogan, "Think Different", conveys this notion. They put a huge emphasis on intellectual property - they obviously look upon their IP as a key to their success and protect it jealously. I say it is an irony because while this may have been true in the past - it really doesn't matter much anymore and I don't know why they bother other than to maintain that "image"...

The Apple of today absolutely excels in crowded markets - markets where there are many companies executing on the same ideas. The point is if everyone is executing on what is basically the same idea - then the idea no longer really matters...

Almost all of the markets their products are in are extremely competitive, and yet they continue to perform above expectations in most of them - totally dominating in many. They are rarely if ever first to market with anything - but their entry into a market (once they get around to it) has a tendency to transform it completely. They seem to have a knack for this... They never appear to be competing with other companies - they always force other companies to compete on their terms.

Innovation and execution is virtually EVERYTHING for Apple - they just seem to like to maintain the image of having thought of everything first. I'm not saying that they never come up with original ideas (they do) - it's just that the ideas are not at all that important to their success.

On a personal note - I also find your viewpoint on this surprising. I know from past experience both of us are opposed to software patents. In practice patents create an artificial market value for ideas. Ideas without patents have relatively little monetary value, because without the legal construct of a patent an idea is free to anyone who sees or hears it. I oppose patents (especially in software) because I believe that ideas should be free - the way to monetize an idea is to implement it better than everyone else (quality, innovation, execution, etc.).

I don't quite understand how you can place so much value in ideas and still be opposed to patents - it seems like two diametrically opposed positions. That isn't meant to be critical, I'm just curious how you rationalize that.

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