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Oops, He Did it Again! January 14, 2007

Posted by robzel in Apple, Business, Innovation, iPhone, Steve Jobs.
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Actually, there is no oops about it, Steve Jobs has another potential hit on its hands. In my post on December 21, I talked about how it can be difficult to innovate in a large company. Apple under the leadership of Steve Jobs has had a string of hits the latest being the new iPhone. They seem to have a solution to the large company problem.

iPhone

The keys to such continued product success are the true leadership and vision that Steve Jobs instilled upon his company. If you have any doubts, just look at the performance of the company with and without Steve at the helm. Unlike the Microsoft example I used in my previous post, Apple products have a purity of form and function that melds together. Their products do not have the clunkiness of solutions developed by a committee, but rather appear to have been developed by a relatively small group of people with a shared vision of the final product. Apple’s stuff doesn’t just work well, but it also looks cool too!

This latest example of innovation reminds me of two conflicting theories of evolution. In the traditional theory, evolution is a continuous process, with incremental change occurring over a relatively long period of time. A more recent theory is called Punctuated Equilibrium. According to this theory (which best supports the fossil record), rapid changes occur over a relatively short period of time, followed by periods of relatively small change. These rapid changes are caused by disruptive events such as severe climate change. Apple as a company represents such disruptive change. While there was a gradual change in cell phone features and technology over time, Apple’s new iPhone represents the equivalent of a climate change in evolutionary terms. With all theories of evolution, such rapid changes in the environment usually result catastrophic results, with the rapid extinction of many species. The question remains: Will the iPhone represent such a disruptive change in the cell phone market?

Other phone makers have got to be nervous. By all appearances, the iPhone is not just another incremental improvement over the existing phone model, but a leap forward. Of course, this is all wrapped up in a temping package with the traditional Apple intuitive interface. It seems that incremental improvement may not be enough anymore, at least in areas that compete with Apple. Stay tuned and find out what happens. I for one am definitely temped to buy the iPhone when it becomes available.

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