Can You Innovate Yourself Out of the Game?

September 11, 2008

By now, you all know that I like to write about Apple from time to time. And why not? They are by far one of the most innovative companies of our time. But today, they bring up a different kind of question.

Can you innovate yourself out of the game?

Well this question should actually be worded slightly differently. They are not necessarily innovating themselves out of the game. But they are cutting sales of one of their core products to sell another. The story here is this, the introduction of the new generation iPhones, and their popularity, have significantly impacted sales for new versions of the iPod.

Why? Well it’s quite simple. Apple fans are buying the iPhone and using it for music. These same people who would be the first to buy the new iPod nano don’t necessarily need it anymore. Sales projections for the new line are way down from the numbers they had achieved last year with the nano model.

Obviously Apple is pushing the phones, and that is a business model that they see carrying them forward as a company. There are a lot of things that still need to be worked out as far as the iPhone goes and it seems that more of the company’s resources are being pushed in that direction. So what about the iPod? Apple’s revolutionary semi-core product for so many years is seemingly fading. And as iPhones get better and handle more, the iPod may be a part of the past.

Should companies be careful about innovating if there is a chance they will hurt themselves in the long run? Well, the answer isn’t quite as simple as yes or no. Apple is under the impression that in the long term, concentrating on the iPhone is the best option, even if it kills the iPod. In a similar position, other companies might hold off for awhile. But overall, if innovating can bring you to the next level and expand business models, it should lead to more growth opportunities than clinging to old products.


The Day the Earth Stood Still

July 6, 2008

I recently saw a trailer for the remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, a 1951 movie about an alien visit to earth.  This is not a post about movies though.

As I was checking it out, I watched the trailer for the 1951 movie, which I have never seen.  I thought to myself how old everything looked, and how it must have been so ahead of its time when it first came out.  It got me to thinking about a few things.

We always consider the latest and greatest technology to be this incredible advancement into the future.  But years later you can look back and almost laugh about how old it has become.  Today, technology is moving at the speed of light, and we have an endless array of gadgets to choose from on a daily basis.  What will people twenty years from now when they look back at the original iPhone?  Will it look like something from the middle ages compared to the technological advancements of the time?

What does the future hold in store and who will bring it to us?  Voice recognition technology is at the height of its growth and development.  What will that be used for in the future?  Will we be able to control everything just by speaking?  Will buttons ever be needed to control anything?

What about energy?  Can something like hydrogen provide us with all the power we need?  If so, who is going to make it cheap and easy to use on an individual basis?  Or will batteries become so powerful, and so small, that we won’t need other forms of electricity in our day to day lives?

All of these questions, and many more, bring to light how far we have come, and how far we can continue to go.  It is interesting to think about what will be next.  It takes certain people with great foresight to see how far we can take the technological inventions of today.  The innovators among us carry us forward.  I wonder what’s next.