We'll Hate Apple's Win Over Samsung Because it Helps Innovation

By Rob Enderle August 27, 2012

When you look not only at the Judgment, but how truly innovative products have fared against dominant technology products over the last hundred years, my title to this piece is exactly how I feel.  It seems that once we lock into a way of doing something, we fight change with all we have while complaining that the vendors aren’t innovating enough. 

Sometimes I think we should look in the mirror and realize that we are the reason vendors don’t innovate.

Examples of How We Hate Innovation

Probably the most innovative car builder of the last few decades is France’s Citroen. They build big, aerodynamic cars in the 1950s that got gas mileage that would compete well with current cars and a ride that is/was unmatched in the market not only at the time, but even today. The car looks very different but no more different than the cars of the 1940s did to the cars of the 1920s. And if you look at the Ford Edsel, it was the most innovative car of the 1950s and it really didn’t sell well. I think because it just looked too different than what folks were buying back then

But when you compare it to cars a decade later, it looked contemporary. 

Now think of the controls in the car. We’ve had steering wheels, and those same two or three brake pedals for around one hundred years. We’ve experimented with joysticks which could put all of these controls in one place, make them so both people could drive the car for convenience (like taking off a jacket or sneezing) and it would be far better for those with disabilities.

If you wanted to take a phone call or discipline the children in the backseat the other person in the front seat could take over driving, as opposed to just screaming “oh my god we are doing to die” a common occurrence when I was growing up. The stuff even looks cool.   

The issue isn’t the technology, we clearly have it.   The issue is we don’t like change.

Typewriter/Keyboard

Look at your keyboard. It was designed in the early part of last century so that, when typing, the metal arms that struck the ink ribbon and then the paper wouldn’t get tangled. It is actually designed to slow you down. This makes no sense in today’s world. The Dvorak Simplified keyboard is considered far faster and even better for you to use, but few know of it and buying one isn’t at all easy.  So even though the keyboard we actually use (and figure how much this design makes sense on a phone) is obsolete, we don’t even consider using a faster one because we don’t want to relearn skills and – given kids haven’t had to use typewriters for decades, we still teach kids on the older technology. 

Now that really makes sense right? I can see why boomers don’t want to retrain but training kids to use an inferior product just seems nuts yet we do it, and the kids let us.   

Windows Phone vs. Apple Phone

If you compare the Windows Phone 7/8 platform to the Apple Phone platform you can see that the Windows Phone is more innovative. The Apple Phone and older Windows Phone products were largely based on relatively mild advancements on their MacOS and Windows predecessors.  If you held either product up next to a screen running their older sibling operating system you’d see a strong familial similarity.

Google/Samsung basically took the Apple design and enhanced or slightly altered it while Microsoft redesigned their interface from scratch based on what had been learned about how people used the products.  

In short, Microsoft innovated, and as we now know from the trial, Samsung/Google copied and while they got nailed for it, they also sold far more products. While a lot of us were complaining that companies weren’t innovating the majority of us was rewarding the firm who copied and didn’t innovate that much.   

Wrapping Up:   Driving Hated Innovation

So this means that the judgment will force more companies like Google to behave more like Microsoft did this last round and innovate. You can’t just cheat and copy a successful design you have to create something different and then convince the market it is better. In short, we are going to get a ton more innovation now, but we will likely resist most of it.  

This is good for vendors, like Apple, who have captured a certain user experience, but it will also force more companies to think out of the box to displace them. 

So thanks to this trial we are likely to see a lot more innovation, and we’ll probably hate most of it.    I guess this comes down to “be careful what you ask for.”




Edited by Braden Becker

President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group

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