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Apple and the double-edged sword of innovation

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 24, 2003

Apple and the double-edged sword of innovation.

Reader comments

Shane CavanaughDec 24, 2003 at 1:04PM

That is a great article. What I like most about Apple is their insistence on maintaing a quality product, but this insistence is definently their foremost business problem. The balance of business ethics is a delicate one, but, with the iPod, I think that Apple is starting to level out.

GeneDec 24, 2003 at 2:01PM

“There was a lot of elitism at the company,” says engineer and Apple alum Daniel Kottke. A Reed College classmate of Jobs who later traveled with him to India, Kottke became Apple’s first paid employee in 1976.

Any relation?

SomebodyDec 24, 2003 at 2:41PM

They had some good points. But some of their points were just naive. Like by suggesting that the pay-to-listen-but-not-keep scheme of non-iTunes music stores was a cunning one. WHAT?! If that were the case, all the dumb old online music stores would still be viable.

Also, so what if Apple isn’t Dell? Not every company has to control 90% of the market. Apple has a great niche and as long as they keep innovating, they will keep it.

Apple may not be a microsoft, but in my mind that’s GOOD.

jkottkeDec 24, 2003 at 6:04PM

Any relation?

No, but I got some email from him a couple of years ago when he was Googling himself and I turned up. We’ve been irregular email correspondants since then. Nice fellow.

bobDec 25, 2003 at 10:26AM

Shane Cavanaugh: That is a great article. What I like most about Apple is their insistence on maintaing a quality product, but this insistence is definently their foremost business problem.

They’re slipping in their insistence on quality, IMO. If you have a 17” LCD display that’s not yet a year old, be prepared. Mine went on the blink a mere 2 months after the ‘ample’ 1 year warranty, just like the 200+ people here:
http://discussions.info.apple.com/WebX?14@235.L6QCaRmQsei.3@.3bb90097

Oh yeah, the repair costs $600. A new 17” display costs $699. I’m not happy.

EdDec 26, 2003 at 7:23AM

I too have noticed mechanical quality issues… but I think with any new technology, that will crop up. There are risks in being cutting edge. The followers will never have similar problems because they are followers.

I love Apple, but I would never go out and buy a brand-new widget the day it came out. Let it stew for awhile.

One thought: If Apple had a business model like Dell’s, then they wouldn’t be Apple, they’d be Dell. I believe Apple has the only possible business model for their niche.

bobDec 27, 2003 at 4:25PM

Ed wrote: but I think with any new technology, that will crop up.

Uh, my 17” LCD, when purchased in August of ‘02, was by no means a ‘new’ technology, nor was it cutting edge, nor have any of Apple’s other stand-alone displays (15”, 20”, Cinema Display) had such problems. My real disappointment is in Apple’s response to dealing with the problem, which is “send us your monitor and $600 to repair it” and the same monitor, new, is only $99 more. Of course, that repair charge excludes shipping costs.

MikeDec 28, 2003 at 12:59AM

Nice article… I was just in the Apple Store today at the mall, and boy are they attractive, sexy machines. I just wish I could afford it. Most of Apple’s innovations become available cheaper if you just wait.

jordanDec 28, 2003 at 6:56PM

um, I thought the SGI O2 was the first 64-bit desktop back in 1998. hooray for marketing.

NedDec 30, 2003 at 7:09AM

Yeah, as long as you had a SG box you were in good shape.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.