Newsweek has its pom-poms out, leading a cheer for team U.S.A. This week’s cover story about how business is bouncing back for the “comeback country” cites Apple as a company whose innovation turned profits, despite the downturn, comparing the iTunes model to the efforts of Thomas Edison.
But more important is the rise of systems innovation, like Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse building electrical systems. “That leads to new models of infrastructure and new kinds of consumption.”
Apple launched the iTunes Music Store in April 2003 with a single product: songs selling for 99 cents. Seven years later, iTunes is a much larger business: hardware like the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad; audiobooks, movies, ringtones, apps, and e-books.
It’s a boon for retailers, movie studios, independent coders, analytics firms, and accessories makers—the market for cases, sleeves, and headphones for i-devices is north of $1.5 billion annually. In late March, the venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers doubled the size of its two-year-old iFund, which backs app makers, to $200 million.
Summing up the 2,561-word pep talk — where Google and Apple are hailed as the new iconic American brands, taking the place of Chevrolet and McDonald’s (you pick which is which), the journalists conclude:
“If the U.S. continues to adapt as it has, and if it produces a few more game changers like Google and Apple, there’s no reason that the expansion that started in July 2009, against all the odds and predictions, can’t last just as long.”