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Idélaboratoriet is a consulting company specializing in creativity and innovation. Idélaboratoriet was founded in 2000.

Idélaboratoriet works in the field of creativity and innovation. We create value for our clients for example through innovation strategy planning, facilitation of creative processes, training programs in professional idea creation and implementation of digital idea management solutions.

Idélaboratoriet is Swedish for The Idea Lab.

Idélaboratoriet was founded in Sweden and has its headquarters in Malmö in southern Sweden, but works with clients worldwide.

Idélaboratoriet likes to say that creativity is a process of getting original ideas that have some sort of value and innovation is the profitable implementation of creativity.

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#36 Apple as the good Innovation Case – Not very Innovative!

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The Serious Innovation Newsletter #36

Enough is enough. In our work as innovation consultants we have listened to numerous examples and cases of innovation at conferences and seminars. From the strict business executives to the fancy media gurus, they are all using the same Apple innovation cases. It is Ipod this, Iphone that and now Ipad… whatever. We are talking plenty of examples of the same old, same old.

And now we are so fed up with hearing about the innovation at Apple that we have to write a piece about it. Taking Apple as an example of innovation is NOT innovative. Please people, let’s face it. Apple has done some good things, but Apple as a brand is also an innovation myth. And as tiring it is to hear about again it’s also a subject worth to take a closer look at.
So follow us when take a scrutinizing look at the innovation done at Apple as well as give you some other fresh innovation cases to share at the conferences worldwide!

OK, let’s look at the facts. Let’s look beyond the media mania. Let’s start the case: Innovation Truths vs. Apple Computers Inc.

Exhibit #1 – the products
Ipod was a groundbreaking tool for listening to music!
Hein…NO. Remember the Walkman? We have been able to carry around music in our pockets for decades. And the Ipod was something like four years behind the first major mp3-player on the market designed by Rio. What the Ipod brought was nice design and a user friendly interface.
NEW CASE: Please take a look at the really cool and groundbreaking Tonium pacemaker which is both technologically advanced, has a truly innovative interface and brings the dj-ing thing to the people like no other player has done!
The Iphone was a groundbreaking tool functioning both as a computer an as a phone!
Like there had not been smart phones for years and years from companies like SonyEricsson and Nokia (in fact the first smart phone was made by IBM already in 1992). And Apple is still a really tiny player in mobile phones and has just a 10% market share in smart phones and other companies are growing faster in the segment. What the Iphone brought was nice design and a user friendly interface.
NEW CASE: The computer giants are also moving into the smart phone segment – Dell released its new Mini 3i in China in December. Innovation in markets, innovation in industry perspective and with China Mobiles operation system Ophone. Another example is Solar Guru, a solar powered device mainly for developing nations with unstable power supplies.

And looking into the future…
The Ipad was a groundbreaking light weight computer with a touch screen and reading capabilities!
OK, but we have had a number of tablet laptops over the years and my current one sport multi touch and its a year old (in fact Fujitsu launched a tablet pc in 1993). And do you remember the Newton? Apple tried to become a player in the PDA/tablet-market which was financial disaster. When it comes to the reading perspective, Amazon launched the Kindle already in 2007. What the Ipad brings with it, is nice design and a user friendly interface.
NEW CASE: Check out the Lenovo – not a trendy brand, but innovative- IdeaPad UI Hybrid which is the same as the Ipad but with the difference that you can attach it o a laptop shell which gives it the possibilities of doing real work (not just opening one program at the time as the Ipad).

Exhibit #2 – the innovation methods
Apple has really revolutionized open innovation!
To my understanding Apple is one of the most paranoid organizations of today, with extreme lock down of their own intellectual property and Apple even has their own league of agents working for their internal affairs / bureau of intelligence unit, trying to find potential leaks of information among the employees. It is almost impossible to visit their Cupertino HQ and if you do, it makes American airport security look like a massage. The App Store might be an initiative of open innovation of some kind, but the rest of Apple is not about open innovation. Ask anyone who has tried to get some open code (like Linux), some info about ongoing projects (like the Ipad) or get permission to make an app for the Iphone (you have to get permission!).
NEW CASE: Why not start looking at LEGO’s very successful open innovation initiative called Design By Me! Try to find an open innovation initiative on Apple’s website…

Apple really knows about the ROI of innovation!
Right now Apple is being really profitable, which is great. But that has not always been the case, from 1993-1998 Apple lost money every quarter and needed financial help from… Microsoft (!) who bought 150 million USD of Apple stock to keep the boat floating. Apple computers have never been especially profitable, but the products being launched lately (mentioned above) are what has really put up some nice numbers for the company. Products that has focused on nice design and a user friendly interface, not breakthrough technological innovation. Apple has never been first when it comes to technology.
NEW CASE: The best cases of ROI and innovation is found in either the really old companies that have endured over time (why not look at Indian TATA who was voted most innovative company in Asia by Asian managers) or the small idea factories that keep putting new ideas on the table.

Exhibit #3 – marketing the myth
Apple has such a creative, open and giving culture!
The open and giving culture of Apple is almost always contradicted by refugees from Cupertino that states that the leadership of Steve Jobs is based on control and obsession with details. A very hierarchical creative structure with a star on the top that makes the rules. The book of Jobs. He seems to have a great nose for design, but his organization is definitely not the one where everybody is invited to be creative and the receptionist is brainstorming with the engineers over coffee.
NEW CASE: Why not take a look at Singapore who is promoting the most hands-on serious national innovation culture program the world has ever seen!

Apple is the number one innovation brand!
How come so many examples of innovation are about Apple? Well, I think there are two major reasons. One, they are an American company and therefore really good at marketing. They have marketed themselves as innovative, and succeeded with that marketing. And they are based in Silicon Valley, which has become a strong trademark for innovation in itself (a Silicon Valley that are now in many ways lagging behind other innovation hot spots). And two, the media is filled up with Apple-users (more than any other segment profession-wise) and therefore get a much higher percent of media-coverage than the company should, considering both innovativeness and market share.
NEW CASE: What will the most admired brand of innovation in ten years? Why notChina Mobile? Or Spotify? Or Bambuser (yes, you have probably never heard about them, but Google did not exist ten years back either!)?

And while we are at it and mentioning Google here… Skip all the Google examples as well. They are definitely the runner-up for most (over) repeated innovation cases.
Get new fresh examples. Get Your Own. Be different!

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