Friday, May 14, 2010

A second bite of the Apple

In 1984 Apple launched the Macintosh. It was not the first graphical, mouse-driven computer, but it employed these concepts in a useful product. Then, in 2001, came the iPod. It was not the first digital-music player, but it was simple and elegant, and carried digital music into the mainstream. In 2007 Apple went on to launch the iPhone. It was not the first smart-phone, but Apple succeeded where other handset-makers had failed, making mobile internet access and software downloads a mass-market phenomenon.
That is from a nice article in The Economist about the launch of Apple's iPad.  As the article notes: "Apple...excels at taking existing, half-baked ideas and showing the rest of the world how to do them properly."  Earlier, I wrote about how we tend to think something WON'T work because it DIDN'T work when we (or someone else) tried it before.  But in fact most real breakthroughs come from someone tweaking something that has been tried before.  They may change the design details, or the available technology may have changed, or market conditions may have changed.