Apple Lags in Innovation

Scott Bradner writes in Network World that Apple is “still pushing industry forward”. This is a misleading title. His actual review is far from glowing and gives no evidence of a push. First example:

I did not find any of the sample features [in OS X 10.7 Lion] all that compelling, although the OS X App Store is likely to make finding, buying and installing good Mac applications a lot easier.

Not all that compelling. I agree. Linux distributions do a fine job finding and installing good applications with ease. Apple is playing catch up to Debian’s apt, SuSE’s YaST or RedHat’s RPM for example.

Moving on to the second example:

I have not bought an iPod because I, as a Unix geek, want to have an accessible operating system on my computers. (But, for full disclosure, my wife wants an iPod for Christmas — and she is likely to get one.)

I read this as Apple has announced it may bring unix to the iPod. Pushing the industry? Unix access to the iPhone/iPod was enabled by Ubuntu almost two years ago. It’s about time Apple opened up and gave their own version of full-featured unix integration to the i/Pad/Pod/Phone.

Bradner’s third and final example:

The final segment of the Apple/Jobs show was the introduction of the next generation of the MacBook Air. I wrote about the original MacBook Air when it was announced almost two years ago (Apple’s MacBook Air: evolution, not revolution). I bought one at the time and upgraded to the second generation when that was announced. The Air has been an almost perfect travel and presentation machine for me and I have had no second thoughts about not getting a “real,” in the opinion of some pundits at the time, computer.

Hmmm, well I guess it is news to most people that the Air was an near identical copy of the Panasonic Toughbook CF-W5.

The W5 was released September 12, 2006 while the Apple MacBook Air was announced on January 15, 2008. The W5, although nearly two years earlier, came with numerous advantages over the Air.

The W5 is 2.9 lbs, while the Air is 3.0 lbs. Keep that in mind when you find the W5 includes a built-in optical drive under the keyboard as well as all the usual SD, PCcard, USB and VGA ports. The Air has only one USB port — not even an Ethernet port is included. A W5 gave 6.5 hours of run-time standard but could run for 8 hours easily. OS X on the Air only manages 4 hours.

The W5 even has drain-holes in the keyboard in case you spill liquid on it. Innovative.

Few have heard of the great engineering at Panasonic and instead think Apple did something innovative with the Air. The real story is that Apple incorporated the W5’s design; maybe chip-for-chip it is what really lives inside an Air.

Panasonic has since updated the W5 several times.

February of 2009 they announced a W8 would ship with the Intel X-25M 80GB SSD. This brought the weight down another 15 grams. The W8 runs a Core 2 Duo SU9400 1.40 GHz processor and supports 4GB DDR2 SDRAM.

What year is it now?

Apple’s new Air announcement for early 2011 is that their new Air (MC505LL/A) will come with an SSD, run the Core 2 Duo SU9400 1.40 GHz processor, and support up to 4GB of memory.

Just to be clear, Jobs announced his company will in 2011 sell the same form-factor, hard drive, processor, and memory as the 2009 version of Panasonic’s W8.

This is why I say Apple lags in innovation. Nothing really wrong with their follow-the-leader strategy. Fashion works much the same. It is not who came up with the idea but who sells the most copies that gets the lion’s share (pun not intended) of the stage. I just can not help but point out where the ideas are really coming from. That is why I do not see Apple as an industry leader, especially in innovation. To be fair they have led GUI innovation some of the time, but even there they struggle to stay ahead of Linux.

Go buy a new Panasonic Toughbook W-series with Linux, in other words, and you can show fans of Apple what they will hear announced two years from now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.