Monday, August 27, 2012

Imitation is not innovation

Last Friday, a jury awarded Apple $1.05 billion as they successfully defended their patents against Samsung – and by proxy Google.

Critics are already coming out of the woodwork saying that this verdict will limit consumer choice, increase costs – as Samsung and other manufacturers with similar designs will have to pay royalties to Apple – and limit innovation.

My reaction: tough.

Apple did the hard work. They spent a lot of time and money developing the iPhone, iPad and the software to make them work so well. They created the interface and made it desirable. Samsung and others, with the support of Google, piggybacked on that success. Taking Apple's ideas, knocking them off and making them cheaper.

Well, that's not innovation, my friends. That's plagiarism, and now they're paying the price.

Innovation isn't about value engineering. It isn't about following the leader. It isn't about taking someone else's idea and putting your spin on it.

Innovation is about combining existing knowledge and technology with new ideas to create something the world hasn't seen before.

Yes, because of this decision we may have to pay a little more for our Android-powered smartphones. But don't dare argue that protecting patents stifles innovation. If anything it encourages innovation.

Only when we protect those who invest the time, money sweat and blood to create products that change the world will the copycats be forced to abandon their me-too strategies and invent something new themselves.

It's time for Google and Samsung to stop paying their lawyers, hire more engineers and start innovating for a change.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry. But that's not completely correct. Apple has copied many features from Android and other manufacturers since the first iPod. Do they innovate? Hell year. Do they make things incredibly usable? Certainly. Are they the only innovators and everyone copies from them? Hardly. I am an Apple customer (phone, tablet and laptop), but last thing I would give them credit for is being the only innovator in the space, especially compared to Android. It goes both ways.