Stay hungry, stay foolish

Is Apple innovative?

David Hopkins on the Google+ made an interesting point

Am I missing the innovation everyone holds Apple in such high regard for? All I am seeing is reaction to what is happening elsewhere but no real drive or innovation. The latest updates are in reaction to Dropbox, user keyboards, messaging, widgets/homescreen, etc.

Apple have always been like that, even under Steve Jobs.

What they do best is take ideas from other people and make them really work well for users.

Steve Jobs famously said in 1996:

Picasso had a saying — ‘good artists copy; great artists steal’ — and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.


The Dynabook was first revealed in 1973, the HP TC1100 was a fantastic tablet (let down by a poor OS implementation), so when Apple released the iPad in 2010, this wasn’t innovation, this was reinvention of an existing form factor, and what they did was make it work and work well.

There were a few music download services prior to iTunes, but it was iTunes that made it mainstream.

There were many different mp3 players, from companies such as Creative, but it was the iPod which turned the mp3 player from a geeky product to a mainstream need.

The iPhone was, though innovative, most of the touchscreen phones before were clunky and didn’t work very well. What Apple did was take the touch interface to the next level, reinvention again, really.

Even Steve Jobs said reinvent when he announced the iPhone.

An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator… these are NOT three separate devices! And we are calling it iPhone! Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone. And here it is.

Even Steve Jobs said reinvent when he announced the iPhone.

The 11″ MacBook Air is a fantastic piece of kit, but before then we had the Asus EeePC mini-notebooks, and Sony for years were making innovative VAIO laptops.

So following the WWDC keynote where we saw Apple release their version of Dropbox, the iCloud Drive (which replaces iCloud, which replaced MobileMe, which replaced the iDisk!). The previous versions were all a bit “rubbish” in comparison to Dropbox, so it will be interesting to see how iCloud Drive works against Dropbox.

Store any type of file in iCloud and access it on any device. With iCloud Drive, you can organize your files in the cloud the way you like, create as many folders as you want, and add tags to find files faster.

This is a great example of how Apple continues to copy what others do, but also demonstrates that don’t always get it right.

Another example from WWDC is the possibility of using third party keyboards.

iOS 8 brings the biggest changes to the keyboard since the very first iPhone. Now you can tap to choose the perfect suggestion for your next word. And for the first time, third-party keyboards will be available. Typing as you know it might soon be a thing of the past.

Third party keyboards have been a feature of Android phones for a fair while now, this is another example that shows Apple rarely creates something totally new, but takes on board ideas from elsewhere.

In my opinion what makes Apple a success is they focus on the customer experience, learning from what others do and then improve it.

Lastly a quote from Steve

Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.

Tech Stuff – Top Ten Posts of 2011

Here are the top ten blog posts (by views) for 2011.

10. Joikuspot s60 limitation

This blog post which described a major limitation with Jokuspot on the Nokia N95 was the principle reason I bought a MiFi.

9. No joy with Sony PSP and JoikuSpot Premium

This was quite an old post, from nearly three years ago, when my primary method for mobile internet was using Joikuspot on a Nokia N95. Since then I have used a MiFi and now in the main use the portable wireless hotspot on a Google Nexus One.

8. Insufficient Bandwidth

This post described how a problem with my FTTC was causing me to have issues with iPlayer streams. I think in the end it was more of an issue with BBC iPlayer than an issue with my internet connection.

7. New Sony Tablets, the Tablet S

In this blog post I was looking forward to the new Sony Tablet. Having now seen the Tablet for real I am slightly disappointed. It didn’t feel like a Sony product and seemed overpriced for what it was.

6. Instagram on the Desktop

My sixth most popular post looked at a couple of Mac apps that allowed you to view Instagram images on your desktop. I really like Instagram, but sometimes feel disadvantaged when I want to see a feed of Instagram images on my Mac.

5. ITV Player and 4OD on the PS3

An update to the PS3 provided access to the watch again services from ITV and Channel 4.

4. iPhone Portable Wifi Hotspot

Back in January Apple announced a new feature for the iPhone, that allowed you to turn it into a portable wifi hotspot, something I had been doing for a while using my Froyo Google Nexus One.

3. I don’t like BT FON

My third most popular post was a rant about BT FON, well actually it wasn’t a rant about BT FON itself, it was rant that BT routers configured for BT FON also broadcast a BT Openzone SSID which wasn’t a real BT Openzone and so as a result my iPhone (which has free access to BT Openzone) couldn’t use it.

2. BT Openzone-H

This post was a follow on to my BT FON rant, it was apparent that BT were aware of the problem I discussed and are in the process of changing the settings on the BT Homehubs so that instead of broadcasting the BT Openzone SSID they have renamed it to BT Openzone-H. I should say that though I posted this in July, here nearly six months later my neighbour’s BT HomeHub is still broadcasting BT Openzone and not the new Openzone-H.

1. Live BBC TV on the iPad

My most popular post was not really a post more of an addendum to another post reviewing the BBC iPlayer app for the iPad.

The addendum mentioned that the main advantage of the app over the web interface was that you could access live TV through the app.

Touching the Tablet

Managed to get a hands on with the new Sony Tablet S. In my recent blog post on the new Sony Tablet I said:

I do quite like the look of the Sony Tablet S, I do like Sony stuff and if I was at this time choosing a tablet, I would be giving serious consideration to this new Sony Tablet. The price is similar (from £399) and that probably is now what will hold this tablet back, if it had been released at the same time as the original iPad it would have been a serious contender.

I couldn’t really give the Tablet S a proper hands on, as there was no real apps on there, no content (apart from an optimised demo) and no internet access. Why can’t retailers selling tablets take a leaf out of Apple’s book and provide internet access for their tablets so that prospective customers can actually try out the tablets properly? Oh I know because they don’t want people to use them for internet stuff…. Of course if they did, then they might in the end and try and buy one!

Back to the Tablet S, the touchscreen was quite responsive and I did quite like the interface. I was less sure though about the form factor. Whereas most tablets rely on a case to slant the screen if you are using the tablet on a desk or table, the Sony Tablet S has a slant built in. It felt as a result quite thick and clunky in the hand, suspect it might be better placed on a desk or table. I didn’t feel in my hands that this was a quality product, certainly not what I anticipated from Sony.

At the end of the day I won’t be spending £399 on a tablet that in my mind isn’t an iPad. I know that sounds like an Apple fanboy statement, but as the HP TouchPad shows, people aren’t willing to choose alternative tablets which are the same price as the iPad, but are willing to try something different if the price is right. I am sure given the choice most people will choose the iPad, not because it is better, but merely because people perceive it to be better.

I am expecting Sony to reduce the price of their new Tablets in less than a year, that isn’t unprecedented, they did it with their innovative UX1XN and other devices, so I may be tempted then.

New Sony Tablets, the Tablet P

On one of my other blogs I recently wrote about a fondness for gadgets from Sony. Well it would appear that Sony are wanting to enter the Tablet market (again, anyone remember the Clié?)

Sony have announced the Tablet P and the Tablet S. I wrote about the Tablet P in a previous blog post.

Much of what I wrote in that blog post also applies to the Tablet P. However whereas the Tablet P is in some ways is a traditional Android tablet, the Tablet P is a completely different and in many ways very innovative Tablet design.

It has two screens in clamshell design. These are small 5.5” screens, bigger than the 4.3” screen of the PSP and there are two of them. The clamshell design means that one screen can be used for the display and the other for input. This could mean a keyboard filling the bottom screen, or a PSP style gaming interface.

Much of what I wrote about the Tablet S applies to the Tablet P, especially in terms of apps, games, books, music and video. It has DLNA capability, can play a wide range of video and audio, there are games, books and all the apps from the Android marketplace.

Like the Tablet S it runs Honeycomb, the optimised version of Android for Tablets. There is only one model available and it comes with 3G as well as wifi. It does come with limited storage with only 4GB built in, but unlike the iPad does have an SD memory card slot. The camera is only VGA, so okay for video calls and Skype, but not that good for taking photos or video.

Though I really like this concept, the thing that will stop me buying it, is the price. I don’t really see this as an iPad competitor, though I am sure Sony see it as that, I see it much more as an alternative to the iPod touch. The 8GB iPod touch is only £193, the Sony Tablet P is £499 which is in my opinion very expensive for a tablet device. It’s a clever design and with its back end support in terms of content, it can compete with the iPad or the iPod touch in that area, but £499 is a very uncompetitive price even for a device with an innovative design. I can’t see this selling, and I am sure then Sony will be forced to reduce the price.

Great looking Android device with access to lots of great apps and content, but let down by an expensive price!