“Gartner analyst Martin Reynolds credited Apple with delivering the innovative GUI interface to mainstream computer users. “When it comes to something great, it’s 5 percent original idea and 95 percent making it reality,” he said. Apple is well known for bringing new styles and form factors to the world of computing, but is the fruit inside as tasty as the shiny Apple exterior might imply?” Read the editorial at NewsFactor.
Is Apple’s Innovation Only Skin-Deep?
2002-09-20 Apple 21 Comments
Having possesion of the ball first is important, yes, but what really matters is how many yards you gain once you have it.
Dude, the large portion of the professional graphics and audio industry wouldnt be using macs if there wasnt somthing there.
Well, for the price graphics and audio pros charge for their work, it’s easy for them to plunk down thousands of dollars for Mac hardware.
But with no game clock, all you need is a good defense and the occasional field goal to stay in the game.
Well, thats like saying that lawyers buy Jaguars (the car) cause they have the money to. Which, isnt really the case, they buy them cause they like the car. You dont buy things “cause its in your price range”, you buy it cause you like the product.
And why would they pay more money for something that isnt as good? Answer: they dont.
Ummmm…. Lawyers lease Jaguars… they don’t own them 😉
So many of these columnists have no idea what a company is really trying to do or where they came from, for that matter.
I am a Mac person (Iuse other OSes too), but the idea of Apple trying to go head to head with Microsoft at the corporate level is ridiculous. Linux is in a much better position to do this anyway.
Apple is a company that almost went under. That is where they are coming from. Even after Steve Jobs came back and took over, when the original iMac came out, there was almost nothing on it, except AppleWorks 5, fax software, Quicken and a couple of games. Look at what they have achieved since then! A new OS and wonderful applications that come bundled. Jobs is trying to reach other areas besides the basic consumer, but not the corporate area. I cannot understand these columnists who keep saying Apple has to do this and that. The only thing Apple needs to do is speed things up <g>.
I know Macs cost more – but not that much more, especially for what you get.
If you buy and iMac or eMac, you get iTunes, iMovie, iPhoto and, if you have a SuperDrive, you get iDVD. Even if you don’t join .Mac, you can get and use iCal (which is brand new and needs work), even if you have no iDisk to publish it on (there are many sites that have popped up already where you can do that anyway). And, of course, you get AppleWorks, good music CD burning with iTunes and data burning with Disk Burner. And those are the basics. Anyone who says these apps suck or are lame hasn’t ever used them and/or is just trolling. You buy and iMac or eMac and you get a lot right out of the box.
If you buy a Power Mac, you really have to shell out. However, you do get all thw above (except AppleWorks for some reason) and now you get Adobe InDesign, which retails for $699, free. Also, there has been an ongoing rebate (which I took advantage of myself) where you can get up to $499 off a Studio Display. So, in my case, my 17″ Studio Display cost $599 instead of $999.
Apple has its niche markets and is trying to expand those and get into some other nooks and crannies, but corporate? Forget it! Since the original iMac came out, Apple has had, I think, one quarter where it didn’t make a profit. It is now a successful, solid company again. What I am interested in is the recent announcement that Microsft is coming out with a “digital hub” version of XP. It will be interesting to see what effect that has on Apple’s sales. Also, the same with the Tablet PC.
I am not shilling for Apple. I have and use XP Pro and love it. This is just what the situation is from my point of view. I get fed up with these pundits who have columns and write about stuff of which they know nothing.
Apple never “almost went under.” They had – wait for it – billions of dollars in cash reserves, even at their worst moments.
Don’t be a moron. You can start by not believing everything you read.
Look at 1997. $1.4B in cash, $1.2B in shareholders’ equity, that’s barely what I call “billions of dollars in cash reserves”. Especially when you lose a billion a year.
Thanks, JBQ! Yes, another bad year and that would have been about it, at least as far as Apple being an entity unto itself.
And, as for being a moron, I was following what was going on at Apple at the time as closely as any outsider could. Everything they had going was falling apart…OpenDoc, etc. The web was booming and Apple had nothing, except for Cyberdog, which was part of OpenDoc. They put together a pretty good (for then) Internet Connection Kit, but had no idea of what Apple itself was going to use the Web for. There were going nowhere and the licensing set up they had with the Mac clone makers was hurting them more than helping them. It was a very bad time for Apple.
Great work by that analyst, re-inventing stock-quotes and all: “When it comes to something great, it’s 5 percent original idea and 95 percent making it reality,”
anyone for “1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration?”
I read this article. Full of bullshit. Let me explain why…
According to experts, however, Apple is a true innovator. They cited the company’s introduction of the FireWire standard, video editing technology, the iPod MP3 player and the newest version of Mac OS X, known as Jaguar.
Yeah, you could call FireWire innovation, but iPod and Mac OS X? Yeah, they are great products, but they don’t fit in my “innovation” list. Mac OS X has some nice features, though most of it has been already offered by other people. For example, those who call Quartz Extreme is innovation, check out Fresco which did something similar before OS X came out.
iPod on the other hand is a combination of great technologies. In fact, I’m planning to buy one. But it isn’t innovation. It brings nothing new. It takes good ideas from there and from there, and combine it to provide something that its competitors get all worrid.
He added that while he expects the new USB (universal serial bus) 2 standard for high-speed peripheral connections to eclipse Apple’s FireWire technology
Maybe. FireWire would still be used in niche markets, especially those video related. I think the only way USB2.0 would beat FireWire is because it’s cost of implementation in devices are way lower.
DiDio added that Apple, like Linux, now has an opportunity to gain market share as dissatisfaction and disaffection for Microsoft continues. But to do so, the company must innovate on price and hardware openness.
I doubt Apple has anything to gain. People don’t really care about Microsoft “anti-competitiveness”. Linux stands a higher chance. Why? Windows to Mac OS won because it was an OS on commodity hardware. Linux would win because it is an commodity OS on commidity hardware. And that’s the reason why Apple’s global market share is shrinking while Linux market share is going up. And this would still be the case even if Apple opens up their hardware.
Apple never “almost went under.” They had – wait for it – billions of dollars in cash reserves, even at their worst moments.
They were heading for a bankruptcy before buying out NeXT. They were loosing money to fast, that everyone thought that by 2000 it would be bankrupted.
Besides, Apple have billions of dollars *now*, but in 1997 it had little over a billion bucks.
So you can pretty much say Jobs saved the day.
Apple has delivered an amazing amount of innovation over the years. In recent times, their innovation has focused on software, namely OS X.
A good move, I think.
Use more and more mainstream hardware and make it do more for the user through excellent software.
It is Microsoft that needs to be questioned vis-a-vis their “innovation”.
Substitute the word “steal” and you’ve got the Microsoft ethos and strategy, all in one simple statement.
Oh yes, Microsoft will defend their “right to steal”.
Just like all other morally bankrupt mega corporations. And monopolies.
So if Apple’s innovation is only skin deep, Microsoft is guilty of stealing that skin.
Not the company I’d want leading my country’s information technology industry.
Am I the only one sick of the overuse of this word? It isn’t even used correctly 80% of the time. It’s just a one-word catch phrase that every company and every journalist feels compelled to use because “everyone else is talking about it.” Read your dictionaries and THINK a little about the word and the context before using it, for crying blood out my eyes.
The erosion of language continues. Yee haw.
As for Apple, they are just the other side of the Microsoft coin. They both do the same thing:
1. Locate good ideas.
2. Change them a little (make it their own).
3. Use money to hype it and market it more than the originator of the idea.
It’s not a bad thing, really, unless they try to convince you that they created, invented or, dare I say it, “innovated” these ideas on their own. You all have heard of the “Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field.” Jobs and Gates are the twin gods of Reality Distortion.
Hey, media people: If you want to talk about innovation, why don’t you publish some stories about the original creators and researchers of all the technologies Apple and Microsoft popularized and took-over? That would be a worthy article. This article is worthy if only for the need to bring to people to question “Hey, maybe this is all about marketing and not about product.” Points for attempting this, but it’s late. Way late. It’s just a me-too article, these days.
Yes, Apple’s creativity is only skin deep. So is Microsoft’s. But will this be acknowledged in anything but editorial? Never. It’s bad PR and not corporately politically correct. Besides, the zealots don’t think about details and don’t want to research facts (see the guy who comments that the Xerox link is “garbage”).
I just don’t think innovation when I think Mac.
For example, that little ‘video editing’ thing. Uhm, no. WRONG. They were NOT first, and truthfully haven’t even done it well until about five years ago. Am I the only one who remembers doing video editing with Targa Boards on 386’s back when Macs still only came with black and white video? By the time they got the first 16 color macs, I was already running truecolor under Windows 3.1. Yeah, graphically innovative. Sure, Tell that to my 286 that was running Autocad in 16 color at 720×768 on a pageview monitor back in ’88.
The only reason all these Graphics types keep calling apples features innovative is the constant revisionist history spewed forth by Apples control over the schools. You give enough computers away to schools and they’ll teach anything you want them to. All the textbooks these college types have now repeatedly list the Apple II as the first home computer to break out in the commercial market. Tell that to the TRS-80 models 1 and 3, which individually out-sold the Apple II by a factor of two to one. I was reading my nephew’s intro to computers book, and I ended up going down to his school and ripping into their teacher. Figures his teacher would only have been in grade school when most of this ‘history’ was actually taking place. I had brought with me books actually PRINTED in that time frame, all of which supported my statements. My favorite ‘Computer Peripherals that you can build’ says it right up front, the TRS-80 Model 1 outsold all competitors in it’s timeframe, and if not for the C64 the model 3 would have done the same. Where these textbooks are getting that the apple II was a huge seller is beyond me, except that they were likely written by mid-level lo-tech scholars, for whom it was the only machine they ever saw since apple damn near gives them away to schools. AND WE CALL MICROSOFT INSIDIOUS?
Take these ‘graphics tools’ that I keep hearing only work well on the MAC. I’m sorry, somehow perpetually lagging behind two software versions from those on the Windows side just doesn’t seem like ‘works well’. When I think innovative graphics products, I think Photoshop, Fractal Design Painter, Lightwave, ALL OF WHICH STARTED OUT AS WINDOWS PROGRAMS AND ARE ONLY AVAILABLE IN THEIR NEWEST VERSIONS FOR THE PC. I’m sorry, but Photoshop @#$%ing CRAWLS on a G3, while on the stupid old PII-450 running W2K I forced our graphics person into it absolutely flies. One Graphic Artist de-brainwashed, one million to go. The only piece of software that Mac’s really had over the PC is QuarkXpress, and truthfully there’s nothing it does that Pagemaker can’t (speak of another program that started on the PC but was ported to the MAC) and even then they’ve jumped boat too! (I was amazed to hear they were making a Windows version. To me that’s the nail in Apples Coffin).
The true innovation in the computer world has most always come from third party vendor addons. Remember Targa? Video Toaster? How about IDE? PCI? In both software and hardware the Mac’s have ALWAYS lagged behind, with only their recent departure from a completely closed architecture bringing any relief for them.
To me, if Apple want’s to start really making money, they need to STOP making hardware, since it has been blatently obvious since the introduction of the Lisa they have no idea what they are doing in that department.
I don’t have time to go through all the details on how MS is less innovative than Apple. Maybe the following will suffice for now.
People like you seem to think you can point to places where Apple “borrowed” an idea, and then you’ve established that MS and Apple are the same. This is a very superficial level of analysis. Of course Apple has borrowed things. But it’s a qualitative and quantitative thing. Who is doing more borrowing, or how big are the borrowings? Yes, Apple borrowed the taskbar from MS (now the Dock), but MS borrowed the whole GUI and GUI-based APIs from Apple.
Your point that much of what Apple does is repackaging is true in a sense, but you have too narrow a view of what “innovation” means. Yeah, maybe Apple didn’t “invent” the GUI, but the fact is they implemented it and were the first to offer it to consumers in a working, actual product that you could use (and my understanding is that many elements of the original mac GUI were invented by apple, like the menubar).
Really, when I think of Apple “innovation,” I think of two things. First, Apple is a company that controls the hardware and the software, so they can implement things (that require hardware and software, e.g., wireless networking, firewire) more quickly and cleanly than is currently possible in the Wintel world. Second, Apple is a company with almost unbelievable attention to detail and ease of use. That’s their “innovation” – trying every day to make it easier.
it’s a reply to his point on what “innovation” is
Photoshop was first introduced on the Mac. See link at http://s9000.furman.edu/DD/labs/photo/ (“Adobe Photoshop is perhaps the most popular and successful image processing software applications available for desktop computers. It was first introduced in 1989 for Macintosh systems. “)
Same with Pagemaker. http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blalduspagemaker.htm (“The first desktop publishing program was created by Paul Brainard and a company called Aldus, the program called “Aldus Pagemaker 1.0” was released in July, 1985 for the “Macintosh” and in December, 1986, for the “IBM”. “)
Oh, and there’s no difference between Version 7 of Photoshop for OS X and the PC as far as I know. I believe that’s true of all of the Adobe apps, and Dreamweaver.
As for the video editing thing, can anyone name an easy to use — as in your average home user can do it without a lot of money, hardware installation and pain — before iMovie and firewire on the Mac? Can anyone identify a serious alternative to Avid before Final Cut Pro. Premier was not taken seriously by pro, Avid types and still is not from what I hear.
Hardware innovation sometimes occurs on the PC first (IDE, PCI, DDR RAM, faster FSB). Of course there are exceptions – firewire for one. USB also was first pushed hard by Apple. But more importantly, things that aren’t so motherboard oriented tend to show up on the Mac first — e.g., wireless networking.
All this talk about who was “first” is overblown. What really matters is quality — who got it working in a useful way. Video editing on personal computers is a classic and recent example of this. It was moribund, shitty, unavailable to ordinary joes until Apple focused its attention on it. It still sucks by comparison on the PC.
I’m not an expert on this, but I did hear that the Apple 2 was better, but the TRS-80 cheaper and sold more (sound familiar?).
I went looking for an article on the web, and found this one below, which explains how the real advance Apple had over the Radio Shack was the disk drive designed by Woz. Again, did apple invent the disk drive? No, but they did employ a lot of clever engineering in bringing it to the masses. Again, that’s the apple innovation. Bringing what’s a good idea to the masses, and innovating along the way to actually bring the thing to fruition.
By December 1977 the Apple II had been generally available for about six months. Most customers used their television as an inexpensive color monitor, and used a cassette recorder to store and retrieve their programs and data. Apple’s major competitors were the Radio Shack TRS-80 and the Commodore PET. The products made by these two companies, together with Apple, could be considered as the second generation of microcomputers; they all came fully assembled and ready to use out of the box, with a keyboard and cassette interface. The TRS-80 and the PET even came with a monitors and cassette recorders. The strength of the Apple was expandability and graphics, while the strength of the others was cost (both the TRS-80 and the PET sold for around $600, half the price of the Apple II). . .
But the Apple II still needed something to make it more attractive to buyers, to stand out above the TRS-80 and the PET. One area that needed improvement was its program and data storage and retrieval system on cassette; it was a continued source of frustration for many users. The cassette system used on the TRS-80, though slower, was more sophisticated than that of the Apple II, allowing named files and easier storage of files and data on the same tape. On the Apple II it took very careful adjustment of the volume and tone controls on the cassette recorder to get programs or data to successfully load. The Apple cassette system also needed careful attention to the location on the tape where a program was stored, and was no more accurate than the number on the recorder’s mechanical tape counter (if it had one).
Apple president Mike Markkula was one Apple II user that was dissatisfied with cassette tape storage. He had a favorite checkbook program, but it took two minutes to read in the program from the tape, and another two minutes to read in the check files. Consequently, at the executive board meeting held in December 1977 he made a list of company goals. At the top of the list was “floppy disk”. Although Wozniak didn’t know much about how floppy disks worked, he had once looked through a manual from Shugart (a Silicon Valley disk drive manufacturer):
As an experiment Woz had [earlier] conceived a circuit that would do much of what the Shugart manual said was needed to control a disk drive. Woz didn’t know how computers actually controlled drives, but his method had seemed to him particularly simple and clever. When Markkula challenged him to put a disk drive on the Apple, he recalled that circuit and began considering its feasibility. He looked at the way other computer companies–including IBM–controlled drives. He also began to examine disk drives–particularly North Star’s. After reading the North Star manual, Woz knew that his circuit would do what theirs did and more. He knew he really had a clever design. . . . .
The final design was generally recognized by computer engineers as brilliant and was by engineering aesthetics beautiful. Woz later said, ‘It’s something you can only do if you’re the engineer and the PC board layout person yourself. That was an artistic layout. The board has virtually no feedthroughs.'” . . .
Better yet was the impact the Disk II had on computer sales, for it suddenly transformed the Apple II from a gadget only hard-core hobbyists would want to something all sorts of people could use.
Since I have an issue of Byte Magazine, Febuary ’85 taking orders for Aldus Pagemaker for IBM, with the tag ‘coming soon for Macintosh’. Of course, when I think ‘photoshop’ I think the old Aldus Photostyler, not Adobe Photoshop, since the current PS is based more on the aldus product that the adobe one (which was adobe’s big feather acquisition years back). Anybody remember Aldus Photostyler-T that came bundled with the Targa boards back in ’83? True photo-editing on a 8088? Not a problem. (In the Win31 days, Photostyler blew Photoshop out of the water)
And that ‘innovation’ of the floppy? Sorry, but the Expansion Interface for the model one came out almost six months before A2 hit the shelves, much less the half a year it took afterwards to add the IIDisk card. Allowing connection of up to four floppy drives, it used a real WD1711 chip to drive the floppies. (I have the RS catalogs from that time too!) Instead of wasting CPU power to directly attempt to drive the floppy, like the OMG SLOW apple drives. I still remember a lot of A2 owners (like my brother) making their own interface cards that used a controller to make it not drag the machine down to a crawl. The board in the Model 1 expansion interface was able to be swapped for a double density kit, most of which also did double sideds. By 1979 Double sided double density 320k floppies were commonplace on the Model one and an easy modification, while the A2 was limping along with with 135k disks (which blew great smoke if you plugged the unkeyed non-labeled no-hot wire cables in upside down)
I still remember laughing my ass off at my brother when he got fed up with not being able to do anything with his A2, so he bought the Z80 card, 80 column card and booted it up with montezuma micro’s CP/M distro, something my Model 1 could run native (although I’ll admit that stupid 64 column display on the one made a number of cp/m programs balk)
Sorry, but having been there WHEN IT HAPPENED, having magazines and books from WHEN IT HAPPENED, it seems to me like some form of revisionist history has been taking place.
But it’s like my Grandfather always said about the news. Whenever they cover something on the news I know about, they get it completely wrong. If I cannot trust them on something I know about, how could I ever believe anything they say about things I don’t.