Steve Jobs: The poster child for technology innovation

19 October 2015
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People often confuse the terms “invention” and “innovation” or use them interchangeably; when in actually, there’s a significant difference between the two.

Invention, in its purest form is the creation of a product or process that is entirely new – something that is introduced for the first time. Innovation, is the improvement or significant contribution to an existing product or process – significant enough to cause change in behaviour or interactions.

When you think about it, inventions are only as powerful as their ability to create change and an impact on the world as we know it. And so, many would argue that innovation trumps invention. But, wherever you stand on this point, one thing is for sure – the late Steve Jobs is the poster child for innovation.

When you think about it, Steve Jobs didn’t invent anything new. Cell phones, even smartphones, existed before the iphone, PCs existed before Macs and portable music players before ipods. But no one can ignore that he revolutionized the industry for each.

Let’s start with the ipod, which is often cited as one of the best technology innovations. Long before the ipod made its debut, Sony had already popularized the concept of having your music anywhere, anytime, with the Walkman. And even post Walkman days, dozens of manufacturers had developed MP3 players which were already on the market when the ipod came around in 2001. Apple may have been late on the trend – but they definitely did it best. What made the ipod so innovative was its effortless combination of ease of use, design and ergonomics all in one device – not to mention, it was linked to a platform that is also owned by Apple (iTunes), which makes it easy to keep these portable music players up to date.

The same thing can be said for the iPhone. Apple didn’t invent cell phones, or even the smartphone – but they did change the game – in a major way. When the iPhone was launched in 2007, it had a touch screen, built-in apps and online store to buy 3rd part apps. This had never been done or seen before. They had basically transformed your cell phone into a portable mini computer and they changed the way we interact with our phones forever. They changed our behaviour, interactions – and our expectations. And any player trying to enter the market has some huge shoes to fill.

The crux is that Apple wasn’t the innovator. And so it remains to be seen if the company will be able to keep up with the innovative legacy of the late Steve Jobs.

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