Dumbing down: Innovation isn’t what it used to be

Isn't copying just the same as innovating? No? Oh.

Macalope

The Macalope admits he’s not really sure what the innovator’s dilemma is. Is it when you get all your innovation ideas from someone else? It’s probably that.

Writing for USAToday, Jon Swartz says “Google is beginning to look and feel a lot like Apple.”

I put an iPhone in my mouth and then I put a Pixel in my mouth and, to be honest, I couldn’t taste the difference.

Swartz found Google’s Pixel announcement to be what the kids used to call “amazeballs” until we said “Kids. No.” and they stopped doing it.

The hardware-software double play was decidedly Apple-like.

Perhaps, but the attendance was slightly different.

It’s no coincidence because, frankly, Google is beginning to look, and feel, a lot more like Apple.

If only they had the sales to show it! As the Macalope has mentioned previously, Google’s only ever sold a small fraction of the number of devices Apple sells. So, just saying “Google is the new Apple” doesn’t actually mean that they are at all the new Apple.

And that could mean a major shake-up in a tech industry roiled by questions over Apple’s innovation and declining iPhone sales…

Who questioned Apple’s innovation? Why, USAToday’s Jon Swartz, that’s who. If you write enough negative things about Apple, you can link back to all of them to create an increasingly complicated web of self-affirmation.

Now, let’s get to the meat of this crazy sandwich.

“The market has co-opted the Apple playbook in some ways,” says Matthew Quint, director of the Center on Global Brand Leadership at Columbia Business School. From a design perspective, he said, Google’s new Pixel phone “is as close as possible in look to an iPhone than anyone, including Samsung.”

So, merely by copying Apple, you can become Apple. Just like how wearing a funny hat makes you Pharrell circa 2014. Pretty cool! Uh, but how exactly is that going to work if Apple goes out of business and you have no one left to copy?

Apple is not innovating anymore but Google is innovating by copying Apple. That sounds right. Sure. Let’s just press on before we notice the insanity creeping into our minds.

In short, Google is constructing a digital empire of devices and services, run from one platform, to compete with Apple’s cohesive, polished ecosystem. It is developing a system to control sleek consumer-electronic products, software and services.

Apple, meanwhile, is playing Tetris and eating Funyuns. Presumably.

See, Google used to rely on third parties to make its phones but now, in a very Apple-like manner, it is making its own phones.

HTC is assembling the new Google phones.

Well, OK, not making making them but “making” them in the sense that someone else is actually making them, but not in the sense that someone else used to make them, in a new sense of someone else making them. The difference could not be clearer, really.

The new phones also touted nifty features…

Was privacy one of them? No? No.

[Google’s] retail strategy has struggled in getting gadgets to consumers, and it does not have stores, as Apple does…

But it’s the new Apple. Other than it not being the new Apple at all.

As Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin points out, Google and Microsoft — with its Surface table strategy combining hardware and software — are emulating Apple.

Emulating is the right word. Copying. Aping. Not being, though.

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