The Innovator’s Curse

Great Cringely piece here.

If I were Apple, knowing that Samsung is the only other game in town (just as Sony was in the iPod days), I would use every method possible to slow them down.  Lawsuits show a sign of desperation frankly, and that is likely to be the case here.  Consumer electronics is characterized by commoditization and Apple had better get used to that fact…

The weapons available to Apple are, as they were for Sony in the Walkman days, difficult stuff like continuous innovation, building a brand and maintaining it (that is what I think this lawsuit is really about by the way), distribution, getting a lock on the supply chain, getting a lock on content, and very occasionally using the International Trade Commission and lawsuits.

Apple needs to do all of this and not just rely on innovation because, unfortunately, as Samsung and previously Microsoft have shown them, they can’t win on innovation alone.

…Samsung doesn’t have to do anything different. Samsung is the Borg.

It is easier to go on litigious autopilot than invent the next iphone or ipad. Bill Gates says the only way to make money in technology is to be the de facto standard. That means the optimal strategy is to push yourself to the max to build a monopoly, hire a pile of lawyers and ride it out.

The problem, incredibly, is that Apple’s competitive position isn’t as strong as Microsoft’s was in the early 90s. Without a motivated visionary at the helm, game changing innovation is very unlikely. Same happened at Microsoft, same happens at every tech company.

Innovation is an extraordinary thing best left to the small and hungry. Big companies are simply relatively much better at being a Borg.

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