Apple: Innovation or Stagnation?

Thoughts on Apple’s future of design innovation.

Apple, like all designers, has traditionally borrowed the ideas of others. It has succeeded by focussing on making an idea more realisable, desirable and useful than its competition and then continuing to iterate it over time — essentially a tension between their marketing slogan Think Different” and Jonathan Ive’s design principle be better, not different.

However, has Apple’s track record of innovating iteration stagnated? Jesus Diaz, of Gizmodo, contrasts the recent releases of OS X Mountain Lion and Windows 8:

Apple is happy where it is — just as it was in the 1980s. But, unlike the 1980s, the company’s nemesis is not copying its stuff. It’s breaking new ground. That’s the most surprising thing about Mountain Lion. Not what Apple did, but that it makes clear a startling reality: Microsoft is the new Apple, thinking of ways to make a better, more productive experience for users. Sure, MS might fail, but at least Redmond is breaking new ground and trying to push computing forward.

It’ll be interesting to observe what Apple does next, specifically their pending release of iPhone 5, and whether they continue to balance Dieter Rams famous maxim — that good design is innovative — with a desire not to innovate for merely innovations sake.

By Rik Williams

I write about how to collaborate to design simple, usable and inclusive information experiences that make the lives of customers easier. Read more in Categories and Tags.

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