It’s Time to Kill the ‘Apple Doesn’t Innovate’ Argument

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innovation

There’s an argument in the platform wars, and also on Wall Street, that goes something like this: “Apple doesn’t innovate anymore. It moves too slowly, and is being taken over by more nimble, more innovative rivals.”

Any success Apple has is the result of slick marketing, rather than the newest technology. But now, Apple is a laggard and is being overtaken by more nimble companies.

Apple has an “innovation problem,” according to Forbes.

Samsung is innovating faster than Apple,” according to Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster.

Why Doesn’t Apple Innovate?” asks CEO.com.

For Apple haters, this argument feels good to make. Unfortunately, it fails the test of fact and reason. Here’s why.

Vision means you don’t try whatever to find out what works

Samsung’s Galaxy S4 is a good example of a product considered more innovative than Apple’s competing iPhone 5.

The S4 has “Smart Pause,” “Air Gesture,” dual-camera mode, a photo “eraser” feature, a health and fitness tracker, “smart scroll,” and something called Sound and Shot for adding sound to pictures.

Plus, the S4 has a much bigger screen, NFC support, a higher pixel-density camera and a more advanced chipset than the iPhone 5.

Does all this — does any of this — mean Samsung is more innovative?

“Smart Pause” and “Air Gesture” don’t strike me as bold new directions in user interface design, but mere gimmicks that most people will either ignore or turn off. They separate the user from direct control, and are likely to be frustrating to use for most people. Is anybody loving these? I haven’t heard anyone gushing about them on social media. It seems to me that Samsung threw these ideas in there just so they’d have something to demo and convince the gullible that they’re more advanced than the competition.

The dual-camera mode, where an image from the front camera is placed in a box on the picture from the back camera, the photo eraser, the health-and-fitness tracker and “smart scroll” are just more feature gimmicks that should be or in some cases already have been added by many apps available in the App Store. I personally use the eraser feature and “smart scroll” in long-existing apps. They’re really no big deal.

“Sound and shot” is yet another thing you’d expect to find in some free app nobody uses. Is this taking the world by storm as is, say, Vine? The answer is no.

I don’t think anyone believes Apple doesn’t have the technological capability to make a bigger-screen iPhone or add NFC chips. Obviously they can do it. They’ve chosen not to yet. They’ve made a judgement call. Does deciding that the ability for people with smaller hands to hold a phone and deciding the market or the services aren’t ready yet for NFC mean Apple isn’t innovative? Or does it just mean they’ve made a decision some people (but not the market) disagree with?

And finally, you would expect a newer chipset to come out on a newer phone. The Galaxy S4 is six months newer than the iPhone 5.

When iPhones first ship, they tend to have much higher benchmark performance than all or nearly all the competition. Does shipping 6 months after the iPhone make Samsung more innovative?

I think any honest observer would have to admit that Apple is certainly capable of slapping on feature gimmicks and somewhat arbitrary new interface alternatives, but that they chose not to. Their strategy is to ship one best phone, and it has to serve everybody out of the box, enabling users to add gimmicky features with downloadable apps.

You can disagree with that strategy, and believe that Apple would be better off using the Samsung model of selling dozens of phones to target every narrow niche. But that disagreement doesn’t mean Apple isn’t innovative.

The so-called “innovative companies” are the biggest Apple fans. 

The Apple-doesn’t-innovate crowd often holds up companies like Google or Samsung as companies with superior innovation.

Yes, Google and Samsung are both very good companies with wonderful cultures and histories of innovation.

But innovation is not an end in itself. It’s a means to an end. The goal of innovation should be to create better products, superior designs and superior usability.

It’s worth noting that both Google and Samsung engineers and designers are huge fans of Apple’s designs and usability.

Any conference or meeting where Google engineers, designers and executives congregate reveals a very strong preference for Apple laptops, for example.

That’s not because Apple products are more innovative or less innovative. It’s because Apple products are very good products.

An internal Samsung memo that surfaced in a mutual patent lawsuit between Samsung and Apple revealed that Samsung was in awe of Apple’s interface design — similar to the “difference between heaven and earth.” The memo then slogged screen-by-screen through the iPhone UI and Samsung’s at the time, pointing out the superiority of Apple’s approach to user interface.

Some observers called this evidence that Samsung copied Apple. But that’s not true. It is, however, evidence that Samsung was internally very impressed by Apple’s design decisions.

Is that innovation? Or is Apple really good at interface design?

Apple executes on vision, then try to perfect it. 

What passes for innovation by many companies is just throwing every new technology they can into their products. Is that “better”? Is that “innovation”?

Apple’s approach has for years been very easy to understand. Here’s how they go about product development:

1. Find content consumption experiences that are seriously lacking and which Apple is interested in fixing.

2. Wait until the market is ripe for the new approach, then unveil a bold new product that offers simplicity, extremely high usability and aesthetic beauty.

3. Design and spec that product for maximum broad consumer appeal, then very clearly convey the benefits with emotional advertising.

4. This approach doesn’t ever invent the product — Apple’s patents tend to involve unique methods of doing things and unique designs — but it does create the market by getting a critical mass of consumers to embrace the new thing, a feat that’s very hard to do and which major companies routinely fail at doing. (Once the market is created, then other companies flood in to take advantage.)

5. Continue through multiple product generations to not take the product into random or technology-driven directions, but to refine and perfect the original vision.

This is the basic process Apple used for iPod, iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air, iMac, and other Apple products, and which they’ll probably use for the rumored iWatch and iTV and other future products.

In the two year period after the iPod, iPhone, iPad or whatever ships, everyone says Apple is innovative. In the years of iteratively perfecting the vision, everybody says Apple is not innovative. Then Apple comes out with the next market-creating product, and then they’re innovative again.

The degree to which Apple is or is not considered innovative has nothing to do with innovation, but with what point in the product lifecycle Apple happens to be in.

One Last Commentary On Apple and Innovation

It’s fun to be a technology fan and argue about who’s got the better stuff — and why. I certainly enjoy it.

And it’s perfectly legitimate to prefer, say, Google’s approach to platform ecosystem cultivation or Samsung’s approach to serving the market with smartphones and other products.

But it’s time to retire the tired, irrational “Apple doesn’t innovate” line.

Apple clearly innovates, and they do so very selectively and with enormous purpose and vision. They have a create-new-market-then-perfect-on-the-vision approach that, while it leaves them open to being called less than innovative, it also works better — far better — than any other model out there from a business perspective.

Apple could easily throw arbitrary new ideas into its products, and develop complex product lines to narrowly target every niche. But why? So haters would call them innovative?

Companies don’t exist to cultivate a reputation for innovation. They exist to make money.

That Apple alone makes more than 70% of the industry profits is undeniable proof that Apple is doing innovation right.

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  • HoustonHorizon

    I have been using a a jailbroken iPhone with lots of tweaks and improvements that have made the iOS experience much better. ( See articles on Cult of Mac for those tweaks) and my wish is that Apple would incorporate these very basic and simple changes to the iPhone. After purchasing 5 iPhones I have moved on to the HTC ONE.

  • AppTacticsNet

    I couldn’t agree more with you. When the next iPhone/iPad/iWhatever gets released, Apple will once again be “innovative.” But they have been selectively innovative this whole time. They release what they are confident will be best for their product, not just whatever they think they can cram in there. Imagine if they added in all of these obscure patents that we read about! Though I can’t honestly say that they haven’t released their fair share of gimmicks, some of the latest phones available reek of “let’s throw everything we can think of into this thing and hope some of it gets used and liked.” Some may call that innovation, but I think some may consider that more to be desperation than anything else.

  • vaio1990

    Apple is at the forefront of innovation.

  • vaio1990

    Apple is at the forefront of innovation.

  • TechBell

    Apple innovates and creates new markets for products but they haven’t been aggressive enough in seizing and winning the content/services battle and to be frank, that’s where Google has excelled. They tried with MobileMe, Ping and even Maps and had problems. They have the money, talent and resources but for some reason they’re not willing to do what’s necessary. This isn’t exactly Harvard Business School stuff either; it’s plainly evident to anyone who pays attention to this industry.

  • Tao Jones

    you left out the biggest innovation by apple the one that brought us from the flip phone to the hand held communication device. all are copying the form factor apple innovated. your comments are spot on about blackberry trying to dazzle with features that are flashy but at best questionable . I cant imagine why my face screwing in concentration as i struggle to frame a movie in a camera would but me in the group in any meaningful way . I also cant see why 6 tiny speakers playing the same song is going to make a symphonic miracle appear. innovate for the sake of being different would demean the form factor apple has already created .Apples job is to refine this creation just as the tire company does not go to square tires to be cool ,they refine the design of the wheel and go for radials . another “incremental ? upgrade that seems to have caught on .

    • vinjoza

      it’s incorrect to say that apple brought us from flip phone to the current form factor. you’re probably from the USA, but in the rest of the world there were many form factors popular (flip phone wasn’t the most represented, either). Also, Apple didn’t “invent” the currently widespread form factor… actually Samsung came up with it. Look up Samsung F700, released half a year before the original iphone. It is similar with many other apple’s “industry changing inovations”. Siri – rip off of the chinese. Slide to unlock (part of the patent lawsuit) – also stolen. What Apple does, and admittedly so (Jobs said this with pride a while ago), is that they take the best ideas on the market and pack them into a product that consumers will buy. The author of this article is right in one thing – apple is good at CREATING markets. They have made a great brand that makes it possible for their marketing companies to sweet-bully people into buying their products. And this is not bad – it’s actually the perfect wheel in the clockwork of today’s world economy. Hats off to Apple for acomplishing that, and maintaining it’s position for this long. Just don’t give me crap about inovations…please

  • Obsidian71

    Innovation is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps I have no inclination to use Text to Speech tools in the software but to somewhat who is low vision this feature would be essential.

    Hiding behind the “innovation” scapegoat allows for shallow discussion regarding technology. Those who problem a lack of innovation without providing examples and context are simply filling digital whitespace.

  • JoeDuh

    Am I the only one that finds this article to be terrible? You are making a point that Apple innovates but spend most your time talking about how every other company that has features that Apple does not is not really innovating. Since maybe the 3g or the camera in the 4 they haven’t done anything in the mobile market. And the comments about Benchmarks are rubbish, every techy knows that software testing hardware is not exactly an exact science and you can get a wide range of results.
    So in the last two years what has Apple innovated?

    http://www.extremetech.com/computing/136291-iphone-5-benchmarks-slower-than-the-galaxy-s3-faster-than-the-nexus-7

  • DocFunkinstein

    hmm a cult apple website blogging about how “apple is still ok”

    keep up the good fight guys

  • technochick

    The real issue is how to define innovate. Some folks think that it means constantly changing form, UI, adding tons of coolness tricks.
    Others think that waiting for tech to be mature and stable is ‘innovative’, even if it means that the tech never reaches that point

    So basically the whole world will never be happy

  • Obsidian71

    The more pertinent questions would be “if Apple isn’t innovating then where exactly are they falling behind?”

    The onus is really on the person making a claim that there is/isn’t innovation to add credible facts. All too often I read about how Apple isn’t innovating because they aren’t copying a persons favorite Blackberry or Android features. . That isn’t a lack of innovation but rather just Apple wanting to move forward with other designs.

    Innovation is subject. I happen to think iCloud is innovative. I think the design of the new iMacs is innovative in build. However large leaps in innovation can take a half decade or more and if people think that every year they should be getting some sort of huge leap forward in advancement they are looking nostalgically at the past. Things move slow yet fast .

    Am I the only one that finds this article to be terrible? You are making a point that Apple innovates but spend most your time talking about how every other company that has features that Apple does not is not really innovating. Since maybe the 3g or the camera in the 4 they haven’t done anything in the mobile market. And the comments about Benchmarks are rubbish, every techy knows that software testing hardware is not exactly an exact science and you can get a wide range of results.
    So in the last two years what has Apple innovated?

    http://www.extremetech.com/computing/136291-iphone-5-benchmarks-slower-than-the-galaxy-s3-faster-than-the-nexus-7

  • Steffen Jobbs

    Those Wall Street investors truly believe Apple is falling way behind Android and they’re putting all their money on the winning team. Wall Street believes that in two short years Android will own 90% of the smartphone industry while Apple will have about 5% market share. Samsung can put out 20 new smartphones in the time it takes Apple to put out one model smartphone. Whatever Apple is doing, I have no idea. If Apple supposedly has new smartphones in the pipeline, what takes so long to build them?

    The tech pundits all say that high-quality iPhones are certainly no better than Samsung’s plastic super-phones and maybe even worse. Consumers are starting to think the same way, too. Seemingly Wall Street wants to see smartphones with dozens of fancy features to attract consumers which will pump up sales to new heights. Bigger screens, faster processors, fancy OSes, lower prices. That what Wall Street believes will lead to greater sales. Apple can’t deliver that type of marketing punch that excites investors.

    I’m pretty certain that if Apple doesn’t come out with a smartphone that has 24 hour battery life or can’t warp time, Apple’s share price will fall even further. As far as the rest of the world is concerned Apple is totally tapped out when it comes to new ideas. The tech industry and Wall Street want the kitchen sink in the iPhone because they know Samsung will do it if Apple doesn’t. Wall Street has already decided that Apple is going to be the biggest loser of all time because Google and Android now own the entire mobile industry through sheer numbers. Investors will now avoid Apple at all costs because they don’t want to see their money go down the toilet. Apple just let Android steal their whole mobile business away and isn’t going after Google at all. Totally pathetic for a company with so much spare cash. Apple has no backbone at all.

  • Paul Burt

    Those Wall Street investors truly believe Apple is falling way behind Android and they’re putting all their money on the winning team. Wall Street believes that in two short years Android will own 90% of the smartphone industry while Apple will have about 5% market share. Samsung can put out 20 new smartphones in the time it takes Apple to put out one model smartphone. Whatever Apple is doing, I have no idea. If Apple supposedly has new smartphones in the pipeline, what takes so long to build them?

    The tech pundits all say that high-quality iPhones are certainly no better than Samsung’s plastic super-phones and maybe even worse. Consumers are starting to think the same way, too. Seemingly Wall Street wants to see smartphones with dozens of fancy features to attract consumers which will pump up sales to new heights. Bigger screens, faster processors, fancy OSes, lower prices. That what Wall Street believes will lead to greater sales. Apple can’t deliver that type of marketing punch that excites investors.

    I’m pretty certain that if Apple doesn’t come out with a smartphone that has 24 hour battery life or can’t warp time, Apple’s share price will fall even further. As far as the rest of the world is concerned Apple is totally tapped out when it comes to new ideas. The tech industry and Wall Street want the kitchen sink in the iPhone because they know Samsung will do it if Apple doesn’t. Wall Street has already decided that Apple is going to be the biggest loser of all time because Google and Android now own the entire mobile industry through sheer numbers. Investors will now avoid Apple at all costs because they don’t want to see their money go down the toilet. Apple just let Android steal their whole mobile business away and isn’t going after Google at all. Totally pathetic for a company with so much spare cash. Apple has no backbone at all.

    You’re an idiot. None of that is even remotely true. Wall Street is a terrible measure of how well Apple is actually doing. Go back in your hole.

  • Paul Burt

    Apple innovates and creates new markets for products but they haven’t been aggressive enough in seizing and winning the content/services battle and to be frank, that’s where Google has excelled. They tried with MobileMe, Ping and even Maps and had problems. They have the money, talent and resources but for some reason they’re not willing to do what’s necessary. This isn’t exactly Harvard Business School stuff either; it’s plainly evident to anyone who pays attention to this industry.

    uhh…iTunes revitalized the music industry and together with the App Store is the most profitable place for consumable media. Also, Maps is fine and iCloud is the largest “cloud” system in existence. Apparently, you need to pay more attention.

  • OrionKeiding

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  • charlo

    If Samsung or Google or who ever they are, are so good at innovating where are these innovations? Where are their smart watches or something anything they have made popular? Smart phones apple did that, tablets apple did that, thin laptops (MacBook air) apple did that, all in one desktops (iMac) again apple, apps and Appstore who else but apple. Show me something that the so-called innovative companies have come up with that people are going crazy about. Something, anything that came from Samsung’ htc’ labs, that’s pushing them ahead and making them innovative. So these are the people with no track record that you are relying on to come up with the next big thing. All they ever know is how to follow how to copy. What are they waiting for? Where are their smart watches? Oh no Apple hasn’t released one yet, we are waiting for them to make it popular before we release ours. Show me something that comes from your research team Samsung anything so I can see this so call innovation. ooops we don’t have a research team just a copy team. We will open apples iWatch and copy and the world already thinks we are innovators so. It’s very easy to make something once somebody else has spend years researching innovating and spending their money figuring out things. So Samsung can simply copy Apples sweat and hard work into their so-called superior product. Who is doing all the hard work? Who is giving up their family time and holidays to figure things out? Look at Google glasses? Who is the one spending money and figuring things out? Who? Wait till they released Google glasses and then there will be Samsung glasses and who will get the praise? And maybe Google will understand what its like to work so hard and give up so much time for somebody to just come and copy your product.

    • Ty Logan

      Thank you! I’ve been saying this for years

    • Chuck Thom

      Apple didn’t invent smart phones: IBM did.
      Apple didn’t invent the music player: Saehan did.
      Apple didn’t invent the smart watch: Blue Sky did.
      Apple didn’t invent the home PC… and on and on… You’re attributing inventions to Apple that they didn’t invent. They simply copied others and marketed their product better.
      You really have to ask how Google has innovated? Samsung has developed much of the battery, semiconducter, and television technology that is so ubiquitous today.

  • MyAppleSpace

    Thank you for the sanity Cult of Mac ! (shared on MyAppleSpace.com)

  • Jon Aanestad

    Apple innovated with the iPhone and iPad, and were in a clear lead for a good couple of years. But they have been falling waaaay behind android and the others. YES, there are a lot of apps on the iPhone, but:

    The iPhones OS is a rigid, ugly grid of static icons. NFC, come on Apple, the technology has been around for ages, why not get it in there? I could go on, but with an honest hope of Sir Ive’s abilities to get the engine running again, I’m going to stop there.

    iOS could be the greatest mobile OS. As of now, it isn’t. Here’s hoping it will become that in the future.

  • jpaul

    Well, Apple may innovate, but Cult of Mac certainly doesn’t!

    I tried reading this story on our iPad. OK, you have a pseudo-iOS like interface. Alas, don’t ever try double-tapping or pinch-zooming on those screens. It’s a vain hope that the column of text might expand to fill the screen. Instead, you’re sent into advertising hell– a labyrinth of ads that you are forced to keep clicking through and through.

    Then, don’t ever try commenting on a story. The screen redraws itself in a herky-jerky fashion– the only website I go to that isn’t smooth.

    Here, too, be careful. Try pinch-zooming or making the comment box bigger and you’re back having to worry about the Minotaur. Yes, another series of ads–and then end up returning to some come-ons.

    I ended up having to my MacBook Pro to post this comment– and even there, the screen redraws were herky-jerky. And the comment box lacks an enlarger handle–and the text doesn’t fit quite right in the box– it scrolls back and forth, with several letters hanging off the right side of the screen!

    To even read the site on the Mac, I had to turn off my various ad blockers–and, guess what, back on my iPad, my cookie list was chockfull of unwanted advertiser cookies. Do you really want Double-Click and British Petroleum following you around the web? Thanks, but no thanks.

    Now, to top it all off, and this will definitely put me in the category of a curmudgeon, there’s the matter of your logo. It’s offensive. The shaved head looks like a skin-head, something more favored by an Aryan Nation fringe hate group. It has bad associations and I keep having to avert my eyes, so that I don’t see it.

    And here I thought that a Mac-related web site would be iPad and Mac friendly, easy on the eyes, easy to use, supportive of user privacy, and not disturbing. I’m now going to look into options to block any inadvertent clicks on a Cult of Mac link.

    Thanks for the memories! NOT!

  • creeg

    It’s funny that the Samsung/Google approach is considered innovative. In reality its the way the PC/Laptop market has been operating for YEARS!!

    Example….Ever buy a windows Laptop (Dell, Samsung, HP, Toshibia, Etc) that was not filled with gimmicky (useless) applications or features? That stuff is added to make you believe the computer you just spent good money on is on the cutting edge. In reality you will most likely replace that laptop in 2-3 years. When you buy a Mac you get none of that BS. You get a computer with an operation system. They way it should be.

    So I agree, the idea that the gimmicky crap added somehow makes Samsung/Google more innovative is very shallow thinking.

    BTW – I typed this message on my MacBook Pro purchased in 2007 and running beautifully today. Where is your “innovative” Laptop of 2007 today?

  • technochick

    NFC, come on Apple, the technology has been around for ages, why not get it in there?

    There are like 5 flavors of NFC, which one would you like Apple to support. Because at this point they will have to choose. Which is why they chose to wait until the issue is settled to 1 or at most 2 variants.

    iOS could be the greatest mobile OS. As of now, it isn’t.

    Or perhaps what isn’t is you. As in their focus audience isn’t the geeky, gimmick loving, tweaker type that you are among, but rather the ‘I just want it to work and not require a phd to figure out’ type that comprises people like your grandparent, if not your parents.

  • technochick

    . Wall Street is a terrible measure of how well Apple is actually doing..

    Given how the price can be manipulated by blogs and analysts full of tabloid tactics and often wrong (yet folks keep posting their stuff and trusting them to be knowledged experts) I am inclined to agree with this thought

  • MrsCleaver

    Finally! A thoughtful commentary on the lunacy of Apple bashing, well-written and well-reasoned. Despite the occasional, understandable misstep, Apple leads the way in innovation, just as they have since the Macintosh arrived in 1984. From user interface to usefulness, from fun to productivity, Apple leads… and everyone else tries to play catch-up.

    Steve Jobs left a legacy that will live for a long time to come.

  • djcolley

    Finally Mike, an article of yours I can agree with. I think that a lot of tech podcasters and journalists have become influenced by their sponsors. Whether they realize it or not. It is not possible to get quality on the cheap and the PC industry has run themselves to the edge of bankruptcy trying to provide consumers the cheaply made junk that they are still demanding.

  • mike90024

    Apple can happily go on for a long, long time improving the Mac, the iPhone, and the iPad, maybe even the iPod. The question is whether the post-Jobs Apple can come up with another product that is as disruptive as those four were when they first came out. In my opinion, it’s going to take one such product to kill the ‘Apple doesn’t innovate’ argument. Just one, but at least one.

  • Harvey Lubin

    it’s going to take one such product to kill the ‘Apple doesn’t innovate’ argument. Just one, but at least one.

    Let’s face it. People who hate Apple, and say “Apple doesn’t innovate” don’t even understand the definition of the word “innovate”.

    To them, Samsung is being “innovative” by coming out with an oversized, heavy phone. They conveniently forget that Apple did innovate the smartphone hardware and software that Samsung and every other company in the world has copied.

    Making something small larger is NOT innovative (in fact, it is regression)… but making something large small, or improving usability, or changing the status quo IS innovative.

  • Obsidian71

    Apple innovated with the iPhone and iPad, and were in a clear lead for a good couple of years. But they have been falling waaaay behind android and the others. YES, there are a lot of apps on the iPhone, but:

    The iPhones OS is a rigid, ugly grid of static icons. NFC, come on Apple, the technology has been around for ages, why not get it in there? I could go on, but with an honest hope of Sir Ive’s abilities to get the engine running again, I’m going to stop there.

    iOS could be the greatest mobile OS. As of now, it isn’t. Here’s hoping it will become that in the future.

    You haven’t provided any substantive data that shows Apple is behind. NFC? I can walk into my local Starbucks and buy a coffee with my square account. Pray tell what I need NFC for? Apple doesn’t have to follow the PC/Android theme of tossing in useless tech because they need a leg up over other vendors selling the same OS.

    NFC has stalled because it really offers little benefits. Square, Paypal and others have entries into the mobile payment arena that do not need or use NFC.

    Static icons in a grid work for a wide dynamic range of users. If something works the first time you don’t change it to appease bored non-contributors.

    The Galaxy S4 shows to me that when Samsung is forced to attempt “innovation” they manage to toss in a bunch of impractical tech. Hovering my hands above a screen is redundant. Appending audio to a picture in lieu of just taking video is silly. I guess they will find out that actually trying to create something new is harder than simply waiting for others to establish a design and then slavishly copying it.

  • extra_medium

    More telling than any of the above statements is how many blogs and other unofficial apple pr megaphones’ articles have switched in tone from gloating to defensive. Just like this article.

  • extra_medium
    it’s going to take one such product to kill the ‘Apple doesn’t innovate’ argument. Just one, but at least one.

    To them, Samsung is being “innovative” by coming out with an oversized, heavy phone.

    An oversized heavy phone that millions and millions of people love. Maybe innovate doesn’t mean making things as thin and light as humanly possible, as we haven’t regressed to that extreme a state of physical weakness yet. When everyone was copying apple, it was an innovation to say “screw it, we’re going big.” And it worked.

    Other items written off as gimmicks untried by mike Elgan may very well turn out to be amazing features. At which point apple will give it a better name and incorporate it. And then , like the fusion drive, people will act like its a great innovation apple came up with.

  • Steven Quan
    it’s going to take one such product to kill the ‘Apple doesn’t innovate’ argument. Just one, but at least one.

    To them, Samsung is being “innovative” by coming out with an oversized, heavy phone.

    An oversized heavy phone that millions and millions of people love. Maybe innovate doesn’t mean making things as thin and light as humanly possible, as we haven’t regressed to that extreme a state of physical weakness yet. When everyone was copying apple, it was an innovation to say “screw it, we’re going big.” And it worked.

    Other items written off as gimmicks untried by mike Elgan may very well turn out to be amazing features. At which point apple will give it a better name and incorporate it. And then , like the fusion drive, people will act like its a great innovation apple came up with.

    Name one instance where Apple took a technology that was already popular, encorporated it into their products, and then proceeded to act like they came up with the idea.

    Fusion drive has been used in enterprise for a while now. It’s not mainstream, but Apple has helped to make fusion a reality for everyone. Apple didn’t invent fusion drive and they didn’t claim to either, just like they didn’t invent the mouse. But they were the first to bring these ideas to the masses and they deserve full credit for doing so.

    I have no problem with Apple using their Fusion drives or retina screens to market their products because they were the first to bring these technologies to the masses. Are these ideas new to the world? No. But they are new to the masses and yes there is a difference.

    The use of a touch screen, app store, camera, etc. are all being copied and used by every device maker out there. It’s Samsung, Microsoft, et al that are copying Apple, not the other way around.

    As for Samsung’s “innovations” Elgan has a point. I’ve not heard one person who says they just have to have the S4 because it has “Air gesture” or “dual camera mode”. None of these features are turning the world on it’s ear. These are small incremental ideas that may or may not be truly improving the user experience. Apple’s ideas have been revolutionary, the kind of ideas that shake up an entire industry, Samsung’s ideas have not been.

    You’re just another Apple hater trolling on an Apple site for some reason, and I know you’re bashing Apple because it’s cool, but it’s never cool to be wrong.

  • Jon Aanestad
    Apple innovated with the iPhone and iPad, and were in a clear lead for a good couple of years. But they have been falling waaaay behind android and the others. YES, there are a lot of apps on the iPhone, but:

    The iPhones OS is a rigid, ugly grid of static icons. NFC, come on Apple, the technology has been around for ages, why not get it in there? I could go on, but with an honest hope of Sir Ive’s abilities to get the engine running again, I’m going to stop there.

    iOS could be the greatest mobile OS. As of now, it isn’t. Here’s hoping it will become that in the future.

    You haven’t provided any substantive data that shows Apple is behind. NFC? I can walk into my local Starbucks and buy a coffee with my square account. Pray tell what I need NFC for? Apple doesn’t have to follow the PC/Android theme of tossing in useless tech because they need a leg up over other vendors selling the same OS.

    NFC has stalled because it really offers little benefits. Square, Paypal and others have entries into the mobile payment arena that do not need or use NFC.

    Static icons in a grid work for a wide dynamic range of users. If something works the first time you don’t change it to appease bored non-contributors.

    The Galaxy S4 shows to me that when Samsung is forced to attempt “innovation” they manage to toss in a bunch of impractical tech. Hovering my hands above a screen is redundant. Appending audio to a picture in lieu of just taking video is silly. I guess they will find out that actually trying to create something new is harder than simply waiting for others to establish a design and then slavishly copying it.

    I’m first and foremost stating my personal opinion, which I see I didn’t specify. The reason I think they have fallen behind is that the OS is more or less the same as it was when they released it (not mentioning the multitasking and other mandatory upgrades). What I think iOS lacks is the ability to be updated at a glance. I swapped iPhone for a WP8 phone last year, and what I love about it is that I can open the lock screen and instantly see any updates from any app that I want, mail, messages, music, news, weather, etc.

    I’m not suggesting they fill the OS with a ton of widgets, like android, but there should be a way to achieve this, as a couple of concept-videos show.

    As to NFC – I live in Norway where they have already started installing NFC-enabled terminals at grocery stores. I use NFC to open a remote control app whenever I enter the living room. The capabilities of NFC are promising, but as Apple (with a huge amount of iPhones sold) fails to install it, the number of people who discover the uses are not near the amount it could have been, and because of that the motivation for making uses of it from the tech-industry has also been stalled.

    I totally agree on the S4. There are tons of tech on phones I can’t possibly imagine ever being used.

    NFC, come on Apple, the technology has been around for ages, why not get it in there?

    There are like 5 flavors of NFC, which one would you like Apple to support. Because at this point they will have to choose. Which is why they chose to wait until the issue is settled to 1 or at most 2 variants.

    iOS could be the greatest mobile OS. As of now, it isn’t.

    Or perhaps what isn’t is you. As in their focus audience isn’t the geeky, gimmick loving, tweaker type that you are among, but rather the ‘I just want it to work and not require a phd to figure out’ type that comprises people like your grandparent, if not your parents.

    Sure, the iPhones grid system works perfectly. But I would love to have the /option/ of customisation. For those of us who want to get just a little bit more out of the phone that I just paid a bunch of money for. Personally, when I tried my brothers S3, I was jealous of his news, weather, spotify, facebook and mail-widgets.

    Hope I cleared things up. This is, of course, a subjective view.

  • Steven Quan

    deleted

  • Steven Quan

    As to NFC – I live in Norway where they have already started installing NFC-enabled terminals at grocery stores. I use NFC to open a remote control app whenever I enter the living room. The capabilities of NFC are promising, but as Apple (with a huge amount of iPhones sold) fails to install it, the number of people who discover the uses are not near the amount it could have been, and because of that the motivation for making uses of it from the tech-industry has also been stalled.

    I couldn’t disagree more. Worldwide marketshare for Apple’s iDevices is only 21% whereas Android devices are roughly 70% and those stats are from Q4 2012, so many of those Android devices are equipped with NFC. If people are failing to discover uses for NFC it’s because it’s a solution without a problem, not because their mobile devices aren’t equipped with NFC.

    Perhaps some day the world will change when NFC actually becomes useful to the masses. That day is not yet here.

    Back in the 1990’s/early 2000’s bluetooth was a dying technology. I heard a lot about it but I never had anything bluetooth. All of a sudden headsets became popular, then iPhone came along and now everyone’s got bluetooth.

  • Kristoffer

    in·no·vate
    /?in??v?t/
    Verb
    Make changes in something established, esp. by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.
    Introduce something new, esp. a product.

    Above is the definition of innovate or innovation. I’m no android nor apple fans but let’s admit the facts that from iPhone 5 apple looses its innovation compare to other android devices e.g. motorola, sony, htc and samsung.
    Its true that apple made the 1st innovation in smartphone and tablets but it was years gone by and there rivalry at least i can say is innovating better than them.

    Innovation doesn’t end today, tomorrow or in the future, but as of now i agreed that Android devices steal that spot.
    Who knows, maybe the next iPhone will kill S4 in terms of innovation.

  • JoeDuh

    The more pertinent questions would be “if Apple isn’t innovating then where exactly are they falling behind?”

    The onus is really on the person making a claim that there is/isn’t innovation to add credible facts. All too often I read about how Apple isn’t innovating because they aren’t copying a persons favorite Blackberry or Android features. . That isn’t a lack of innovation but rather just Apple wanting to move forward with other designs.

    Innovation is subject. I happen to think iCloud is innovative. I think the design of the new iMacs is innovative in build. However large leaps in innovation can take a half decade or more and if people think that every year they should be getting some sort of huge leap forward in advancement they are looking nostalgically at the past. Things move slow yet fast .

    Am I the only one that finds this article to be terrible? You are making a point that Apple innovates but spend most your time talking about how every other company that has features that Apple does not is not really innovating. Since maybe the 3g or the camera in the 4 they haven’t done anything in the mobile market. And the comments about Benchmarks are rubbish, every techy knows that software testing hardware is not exactly an exact science and you can get a wide range of results.
    So in the last two years what has Apple innovated?

    http://www.extremetech.com/computing/136291-iphone-5-benchmarks-slower-than-the-galaxy-s3-faster-than-the-nexus-7

    I pretty much agree with you, but the article is titled “It’s Time to Kill the ‘Apple Doesn’t Innovate’ Argument” and yet doesn’t present a reasonable argument for killing it. You I think have actually, innovation doesn’t come regularly, it is often defined through preference and many things Apple is not doing are simply features. Though their product release shows don’t help the Apple is not innovating argument because they act like every new product will radically redifine everything we have every known, so maybe Apple bought it upon themselves.

  • daov2a

    I do not really believe anyone is innovating right now and the market itself is at a standstill. “Apple does not innovate” is absurd. They do. BUT right now, THEY ARE NOT. Anyone who states their recent release of products are somehow amazing or revolutionary or great innovations, would be wrong. I think 2013 will be a big year for every big tech company.

  • gted

    Perhaps the single most critically lacking thing at Apple is the famous “Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field” Jobs was forever selling Apple by making huge overstatements about the importance of this new idea in to the future of for example the digital lifestyle, a Jobs popularized if not invented idea. Jobs also was forever putting in his oar about what innovations would work or wouldn’t what will be a success and what will fall on its sorry ass. Things were either Jobs-approved or “brain-dead”. He was both a marketing genius but a damned superior salesman, always selling Apple even when he wasn’t saying anything about it.

  • eldernorm

    Mike, I think you out did yourself here. This was a really good article and used facts and logic very well.

    The key is that innovation is not light year leaps, but making things better in new ways. Its not adding a few extra gig of memory, its making the OS work better and be even smaller so that ALL iOS devices can enjoy the extra room and functionality.

    Yes that is a small innovation, but if your innovation leaps have to include things like anti-gravity and teleportation, you only are going to innovate about 3 times before you reach the end of the universe.

    And to Samsung, shiny colored plastic or just larger pixels on a bigger screen is not innovation.
    OK, I am rambling here but Mike, very good article. Pro Apple or anti-Apple, if its based on facts and logic and reasoning (and yes research) then its a worth while read.

    EN

  • nod2mybeats

    There are literally dozens of “Why you shouldn’t buy the S4” articles online. This one brings nothing new to the table aside from taking the opportunity to further stroke the Apple ego. The iPhone is a great BASIC smartphone- perhaps the best even, but innovative? Not since 2007 despite what its carriers would like to tell themselves.

    LOOK GUYS VOICE CONTROL AND PANORAMA SHOTS!!!

    Give me a break.

  • Pompo

    Mike you couldn’t have said it any better! All the competition is doing is releasing gimmicks.. real innovation cannot come every other week! It does have to go with real needs and when the time is ripe..

  • John Wentworth

    Sure take the one really bad android example Samsung touchwiz (which takes a throw features and see what sticks approach) and use it to prop up slow moving apple. Google’s nexus line, the moto x or even the htc one would be a lot harder to make this argument against. Android OEM’s make some missteps but overall Android makes useful innovations and is ahead of apple, Apple at this point mostly copies old Android innovations, See iOS 7

  • Tom jone

    I think the consumers are not thinking that apple is not innovative and the others are therefore i will purchase the other products over apple, more so than this is apple’s new product it will cost me this much, this is the competitors product it will cost me this much less and do this much more. Or cost me just the same with additional features. That is the major issue with apple products providing a product that can compete with the other products that are cheaper and can do more. Take Apple ipad mini retina display ($399) v. google nexus 7 2nd gen. ($229) Despite having a slighter better retina display from the nexus 7 (very slight) google nexus 7 beats ipad with a better processor, more features android operating system which is more seamless than ios, and provides a lot more features for a whole lot less. In fact i was an avid apple user with ipod touch ipad iphone macbook air macbook pro, and have started using the other products, quite honestly I regret spending so much for so little with respect to the apple products. I’ve had a greater sense of satisfaction from the android based machines and been able to save a lot more money.

  • Chuck Thom

    “the fact Apple gets 70% of market profits…” means they’re good at marketing.