Two researchers consider a number of Apple’s innovations over the years — and conclude, among other things, that incremental technological innovations can sometimes have more influence than more radical ones.
Apple is often noted for its innovation; its iPhone and iPod are well-known examples of successful innovation by an established company. But a paper by Thierry Rayna (London Metropolitan Business School) and Ludmila Striukova (University College London) makes an interesting argument: that one thing Apple’s innovation history illustrates is the challenges of being a first-mover in a technology market .
In a paper titled “The Curse of the First-mover,” Rayna and Striukova take a look at two Apple innovations that were not great commercial successes — the Lisa computer in the early 1980s and the Newton PDA in the early 1990s – as well as two that have been –the iMac and the iPod. The authors argue that the Lisa and the Newton were both actually more radical technological innovations than the iMac, the iPod or the iPhone — which, according to Rayna and Striukova, can be categorized as incremental innovations within existing categories of products.
One of the authors’ conclusions from Apple’s history? That incremental technological innovations can sometimes have more influence than radical ones.