Friday, August 20, 2010

History Often Writes Itself Backwards

This is an interesting article, but it makes a very huge assumption, though a powerful one for the sake of kissing Steve Jobs' boots. The article assumes that whomever was first out of the gates was clearly the one who "figured it all out".

This is very short-sighted. Most of these technologies take years to develop. So, even if a phone comes out a year or two after the iPhone, chances are that one company did not learn from the other, but that two companies were working on the same technology simultaneously and one happened to work faster.

The same thing happens in Hollywood. Someone pitches the idea for a movie (let's say a movie about an asteroid which is about to hit the Earth)... they pitch this idea to several studios. Neither of these studios buy the original script, but commission their own people to write a similar one. Suddenly, two (or three) movies come out with the same basic theme. Whichever one hits theaters first is considered the "original" and whichever ones were scheduled to be in theaters later are considered "copy-cats"... when in reality, all were "inspired" by the same source, which rarely gets glory or credit.

In Apple's case, they did not invent touch screen technology and they did not perfect it. They also did not "figure out" how to make it work well for a phone. The reality is, there were other talented engineers who were working on the problem of touch screens. They solved these problems and, suddenly, Apple and many other companies license (or rip off) this technology and then start running for the gates. Apple reaches the gates first, and everyone high-fives Steve Jobs. Those who make it to the gates next are said to have "copied Apple". It's a pretty sad process to watch, and an even sadder process to see the confused media twist the story around by connecting dots that really aren't there.

What Apple is truly successful at is marketing and PR. People forget that they failed with the Apple Newton, Mac TV, and a series of other Apple flops. Yet, eventually, Apple convinces the world that they invented the mp3 player by renaming it iPod. Next, they will convince the world that Apple TV didn't really flop by renaming it iTV. If they keep throwing that same noodle at the wall over and over again, eventually they'll get their strongest fanatics to gobble it up, then everyone can say they are leading the way.

in reference to: - A smartphone retrospective (view on Google Sidewiki)

1 comment:

Nomobie said...

You seem to argue here that Apple has deluded the public into thinking that they have invented these new technologies (like the touch screen smartphone, or the tablet PC), and that since Apple did not create this technology, they are undeserving of the public's wild admiration and patronage.

It seems however that laws of business give a huge competitive advantage to a company who can produce a high-quality product before anyone else. I contend that this, not apple's brilliant marketing and PR, is the leading reason Apple has been so dominant. Not to mention the design ingenuity of the iphone OS, which was at the very least superfically influential in the creation of android.

i apologize for what is a very late response. and welcome any of your thoughts.