A puzzling lack of innovation?

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by nightfly13, Jan 9, 2011.

  1. nightfly13 macrumors 6502a

    nightfly13

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    #1
    So I've been discussing/debating with a couple friends who are typical Apple haters (and they accuse me of being a blinder-wearing fanboy kool-aid bibber) but I've realized how the other major companies in the tech world have really innovated very little in the last decade, while Apple has seemingly single-handedly changed the tech world and is constantly out in front.

    So I'm hoping it's not as stark and one-sided as I now envision it to be. Here's the scope of my question:

    What are innovative physical products (ie. not gmail or software products) that have been revolutionary for the tech industry and successfully adopted in the past decade that were not designed and launched first by Apple?

    So far I've thought of three products from the past decade that were truly innovative and successful, I'm hopeful you'll help me think of more.

    TiVO. Let the clichés begin: game-changer, revolutionary, you fill in the blanks. It was an awesome product that Apple didn't have anything to do with.

    Blackberry. Yes they've basically been beaten at their own game, but it has to be said they were truly innovative and very successful.

    The PS3. You could maybe put the XBOX 360 in here too, but their combination of evolutionary console upgrades with media center/BluRay was quite innovative (BluRay is the only other credit I can give to the mighty fallen tech giant Sony). iOS is the new king of the hill as far as games go, but I'll give credit to the others (and Wii) for not standing still/copying Apple the way most tech companies seem to these days.

    What other products am I missing? When I think of HP innovations, I get stuck at printer ink chip security technology. Thanks but no thanks. Dell? MS's Zune? Where's the innovation? Sony has fallen off the innovation map, weirdly.

    Help me think of other game-changing tech products that maybe I'm forgetting or taking for granted. Kindle might be close, but without Amazon releasing their sales figures, it's hard to call it a bona fide success.

    I'm not a tech journalist, and I suppose I'm opening myself up to haters (what are you doing on a Mac forum, btw?) but I'm really hope that innovation isn't as stagnated as it appears to be for me now. Let's try to keep it clean :)
     
  2. nightfly13 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    nightfly13

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    #2
    It should be noted I'm not talking about components (Intel processors or NVIDIA chipsets) but full-scale tech products.
     
  3. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    #3
    Why are you using a blog post that says nothing about overall market share to support your argument? From the blog post:

    You understand that growth rate is not the same as overall market share, right?

    Plus when you're at the top, there's nowhere to go but down. RIM dominates the enterprise market which is far more stable than the consumer market Apple is currently dominating.

    But I guess who could argue with a blog so professional it offers gems like:

    /caring
     
  4. *LTD* macrumors G4

    *LTD*

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    #4
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Mobile/8C148)

    They're absolutely right about iOS. It's currently the highest and best iteration of a mobile OS. You might not like that, but it's true.
     
  5. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #5
    The OP is not talking about innovation NOW. He's talking about non-apple innovation and gamechangers in the PAST decade or so. To me, Blackberry qualifies. It was very different from what went before.

    Here are my offers, both in the mobile telecoms field.

    - Nokia Communicator - the first mobile phone with a full QWERTY keyboard. The size of a brick, it opened up to reveal an internal screen and keyboard. The first phone to introduce the idea of seriously being able to create and edit documents on a phone. I had the NC 9000i, 9100, and 9200 models.

    - Windows Mobile - for me, it was a leap forward over previous mobile OSes. The concept of having the same degree of freedom (almost) on the OS of your phone as on your laptop was stunning at the time. Without Windows Mobile, we may not have had iOS.
     
  6. (marc) macrumors 6502a

    (marc)

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    #6
    Thank You :rolleyes:
     
  7. nightfly13 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    nightfly13

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    #7
    In my discussion with one of my apple-hater friends, he mentioned this. I countered that while it was innovative, I'm not sure I'd call those PocketPCs (if that's what you're referring to) successful. I had a Dell Axiom (I think it was called) and a Sony Clie. Neither worked their way into my life successfully, and neither approached any kind of market success like iOS devices, but some credit should be given for the innovation, for sure.
     
  8. nightfly13 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    nightfly13

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    #8
    Yeah I was lazy when I linked to that. I had just read it and it was in my recent browser history. I don't believe it's true, though, that when you're the market leader you have no where to go but down. You can increase the gap. This is basically what the Apple did with the iPod for years on end, just kept pulling away, competing only with themselves.

    Smart phones boomed only after the iPhone. That's not to discount RIM (remember it used to be called crackberry for it's addicted customer base) but to me it's evident that their innovation stalled, and they've lost market share as a clear result. I guess that's really my point, all the really big tech companies stopped innovating. That's an over-simplification, but IBM left the consumer market, Dell and HP just race to the bottom in the commodity PC market, Sony makes awesome robots, but nothing that any of us 'have' to have - which is quite different than in the 90s.

    Any blockbuster, innovative tech products I'm still missing?

    Google had a good decade on the software/services side, I'd say very nearly as innovative and positively influential as Apple has been (until you factor in the utter and complete transformation and dominance in the music industry and then Apple is still the shocker).
     
  9. ChazUK macrumors 603

    ChazUK

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    #9
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.2; en-gb; ZTE-BLADE Build/FRF91) AppleWebKit/533.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/533.1)

    I think Nintendo innovated well with the Wii and DS, especially after the Gamecube performedvso poorly. I had them written off like Sega at the end of the Gamecube's life.

    I'd say the gaming areas is where I've seen the most innovation from other companies.

    Being a user of one of their products in the workplace, I've been impressed most by Panasonic's Toughbook ruggedised computers. Ive seen them take so much abuse at work that they seem to be first class. Of course I don't know if Panasonic invented the rugged computer but there must have been some innovation from them looking at the quality of machines I've used.
     
  10. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #10
    Not sure about these two but I'm referring more to the range of winmo phones made by HTC and rebranded by just about every mobile company. They sold by the multiple million. Looking up them up online was a pain as similar models sold under so many different names. (XDA, Hermes, TyTn, Wizard, etc )

    I may regret saying this, but I think Microsoft may have something good coming with Office360. I know Google Docs / Google Gears is similar and free, but it hasn't caught on like wildfire.
     
  11. maflynn, Jan 10, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011

    maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #11
    You could make a case that apple had not "innovated" but rather saw an opportunity to leverage current technology in a sector that was under utilized.

    the iPod, is a great example of this. It was not the first MP3 player.
    the iPhone, iPad are also great examples of apple seeing an opportunity and providing a product using existing technology. In the the strictest sense, they did not "innovate" a new product, others already paved the way.

    RIM truly was innovative by providing the enterprise with a device that allowed people to access their emails quickly and easily on a small phone. They sat on their dominance and failed to deliver on anything beyond that and now they're paying the price.

    I'd not really qualify the PS3 as innovative. Jamming in some serious hardware into a console is not really what I'd call innovation.

    The Kinect on the other hand is quite innovative and certainly will be a game changer for Microsoft, not just in the xBox arena but the PC. They already said they'll be looking to extend the Kinect into PCs.

    I'd say the Win7 Phones are innovative, while its too early to judge whether they'll be game changing devices, one thing is for sure. MS swung for the fences and produced a phone that seems to have a lot of the benefits of its competitors but little of their short comings. (it may have its own short comings).
     
  12. talkingfuture macrumors 65816

    talkingfuture

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    #12
    It does look like a lot of mainstream tech companies nowadays just take an intel chipset and the usual standard parts (screens, drives etc) and assemble them in their own casing then install Windows or Android as their interpretation of the latest laptop/tablet/phone etc.

    I'm sure they all have the resources to try to innovate a bit more like Apple but for some reason they don't. Perhaps they make enough money this way for now and don't see a threat to it.

    Whereas Apple seem to take a lot of the same off the shelf parts but then spend a bit of time thinking about how they are assembled (unibody, glass trackpad) or could be customized (A4 chips, Macbook Air SSD) and integrate them with their own software and support ecosystems (app stores, itunes).

    The apple approach takes a lot more effort but it is reaping greater awards right now.
     
  13. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #13
    Good industrial engineers and industrial designers are like gold dust, especially interface designers. It's hard to know what will work in the market without risking millions on making it, promoting it, and lining up the supply chain.

    There are a few decent industrial designers out there, but I notice with the Asian designs, often they are designed by committee, so devices end up with the kitchen sink thrown in. Maybe the original design was wonderful (I have seen many wonderful Asian concept designs) but after it's been through layers of line managers and committees, each with their own favourites, it ends up being bland, as each one of them has the power to stop what they dislike, but will approve anything they find inoffensive or which is presented as making a good business case.

    I've seen this happen in person with corporate logo redesigns. We started with some outstanding designs, but each innovative concept also had someone in senior management fiercely dislike it (for perfectly good reasons) and we ended up with a crappy bland corporate logo that nobody disliked, but nobody loved it either.

    Apple has the vision at top to back its designers and ignore/accept some of the glaring issues and market restrictions that come with fully implementing such a design-led vision.

    Some Asian companies that have accepted star designer power have also had stellar successes, like Nintendo with Shigeru Miyamoto, and Studio Ghibli with Hayao Miyazak.
     
  14. belvdr macrumors 603

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    #14
    What do you mean by highest? If you're talking market share, then that's no longer correct:

    http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/991...ogle-android-market-share-microsoft-palm.htm#

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2375417,00.asp

    "Best" is subjective. I prefer Android over iOS, as I don't like the lock-in or iTunes. Given the above facts, it is clear that more people prefer Android at this point. The imminent Verizon release may change that.
     
  15. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #15
    Evolutionary? Yes. Innovative? Not in my opinion. The PS3 is just a beefed up, HD version of the PS2 and its Move controllers are just a copy of the Wii's controllers. Nintendo deserves innovative props for the Wii and up coming 3DS and Microsoft deserves props for the Kinect.

    Palm deserves credit for creating the PDA market and for WebOS (which hopefully HP doesn't screw up).

    Dell deserves credit for implementing a wicked inventory management system that helped computer prices plummet (for better or for worse).

    Diamond Multimedia should get a nod for their contribution to the MP3 player market and for fighting against the RIAA. If Diamond would've lost that case the MP3 player might have been killed before it even got truly started.

    Panasonic and Sony, in the digital video camera market, have really been pushing the pace this decade. Red shook up the camera market not only with its Red One camera but also its open approach in design and development (it's a shame Apple totally dropped the ball w/that partnership).

    Are we allowed to list innovative companies that Apple purchased in order to acquire tech subsequently used in Apple products? ;)


    Lethal
     
  16. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #16
    No you are limiting yourself to only the consumer spot light which the media likes. But simple truth is since the iPhone apple has not had anything really innovated come out. Just media blowing stuff up and Apple hype but nothing really innovative in my book.

    There are huge amount of innovations from MS and others that never see the media because well it is boring to most of the world and tons of behind IT related stuff. You have MS sharepoint which is really great for people who use it.
    Google wave was really innovative but it was very limited in who had any use for it. It is something I know a lot of companies are working on things like it but it is limited. I have friends who were pissed when it was shut down because they were using Wave on their senior projects in working with the rest of the group.

    You are limiting yourself to a very small market and one that really is only interested in flash. Apple is good at flash but innovations not so much.
     
  17. Liquorpuki macrumors 68020

    Liquorpuki

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    #17
    Plasma / LCD / LED TV's (and their future - 3DTV's - both glasses and stereoscopic)
    Bluetooth Headsets
    DSLR's (feels like there's always someone running around with an EOS or a Nikon nowadays)
    Consumer GPS Receivers (before this it was either use Yahoo Maps or a Thomas Guide)
    Laser Mice (thank you Logitech)
    Netbooks (a staple of housewives worldwide)
    Music Controller Gaming (Guitar Hero, Rock Band, etc)
    USB Flash Drives (killed the ZIP drive)
     
  18. belvdr macrumors 603

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    #18
    That would be CD-Rs. USB flash drives were non-existent those days.
     
  19. Liquorpuki macrumors 68020

    Liquorpuki

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    #19
    ok
     
  20. dolphin842, Jan 10, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011

    dolphin842 macrumors 65816

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    #20
    Dell pushed full HD, IPS-based LCDs below $200 (using one now in fact :D).

    IBM/Microsoft also deserve a mention for some of their tablet PCs. While not as approachable to the mainstream as the iPad, the pen-based input + OneNote does work wonders for people who can take advantage of it. I had a math prof who utilized it quite well, and I would definitely consider an iPad-sized Windows 8/OneNote tablet once they get it running on ARM.

    Also, my favorite tech product of the decade, while not well-known, is the Kinesis Advantage ergo keyboard... saved my wrists from much pain over the years.
     
  21. NickZac macrumors 68000

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    #21
    If you look at products today and what companies are doing, I feel most companies are pushing newer, more useful, and better products and the level of creativity is more than say 10 years ago. Some of the most creative products are from Apple. Apple has brought many products out which have failed, but products which succeeded made it huge. The bold willingness to risk failure brings more glory upon success.

    Another thing is how products have become so standardized, making life easier. Just a few of the huge things that have impacted all of us would be:
    -USB2
    -Incredible drop in HDD and RAM prices due to better manufacturing
    -The advent and mainstream adoption of flash based storage
    -The evolution of MS Office
    -The MacBook Air-a PROFOUND product that denied expectations
    -Flat screen monitors
    -Lower price of laser printers and color laser
    -The ability to print photo quality pictures in your own home
    -Evolution of both OS X and Windows to their present, capable, reliable form
    -64 bit replacing 32
    -CD ROM and then CDR/DVDR-RW

    However, the craziest, most innovative and arguably the most success product over the past 10 years has been.....the iPod, which took MP3 players from expensive and rare to common and reasonably priced. Most MP3 players completely and totally sucked before the iPod and reviews focused on which MP3 player had the fewest worst features as opposed to best. The iPod (with iTunes) took the market by storm, gave basic computer users the ability to customize and listen to their favorite songs wherever and whenever. Perhaps the trait that best illustrates the iPod's impact is the fact that most vehicles sold either allow the option of or come standard with the ability to connect an iPod to the stereo. Most music-electronic companies have at least some type of product (alarm clock, speakers, etc) that are made specifically for the iPod.

    I would even argue that the iPod is one of the top 5 most profound electronic developments ever. Not many other products have taken the market with such force and gained mainstream acceptance from such a diverse group of consumers.

    I might be wrong but I would argue it was CDR's (and then DVDRs) with its quickly dropping price that completely killed the Jazz drive, but Zip was still used until USB flash storage become popular in the early 2000s and was gone after USB flash storage, especially with USB2.
     
  22. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #22
    Netflix and Valve's Steam need to be mentioned too. It's premature but I'll be optimistic and toss out OnLive as well.


    Lethal
     
  23. belvdr macrumors 603

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    #23
    I might be wrong too. Most people I know went directly from Zip/Jaz to CD-R. This was when I worked at a small computer company. It could very well be what we pushed.
     
  24. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

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    #24
    I would say the flash drive kill off Zip drives. CD-R were to slow and could really not be reused multiple times over and were fairly costly for limit use. It was over a dollar per CD-Rat that point of time.

    USB flash drives is what truly killed them off. It was we need a way to move smaller files (10-100 megs) quickly and easily between computers. CD-R could not do that.

    For the larger files DVD-R allowed us to do it but those were more limited. It was when flash drives crossed about 100 megs they complete killed off the zip drive.
     
  25. Liquorpuki macrumors 68020

    Liquorpuki

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    #25
    I'll add Serato to my list. Since its release a few years back it's managed to kill vinyl, get the Technics 1200 discontinued, put a laptop in every club, shut down Fat Beats LA, and turn anyone with cash to blow into a Microwave DJ.
     

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