Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google Apple IT

Apple Versus Google Innovation Strategies 187

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-it-done dept.
porsche911 writes "The NY Times has a great story comparing the top-down versus bottom-up innovation approaches of Apple and Google. From the article: '"There is nothing democratic about innovation," says Paul Saffo, a veteran technology forecaster in Silicon Valley. "It is always an elite activity, whether by a recognized or unrecognized elite."'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Apple Versus Google Innovation Strategies

Comments Filter:
  • Not Even Close (Score:3, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @12:59PM (#38878757) Journal

    Google's current CEO, Larry Page, took Steve Jobs' advice [businessweek.com] to heart and is cutting the bloat (e.g. Google Wave, Google Labs, etc. have all been cut in the last several months). That means less 20%-time projects from engineers who have no experience with product development and more polished projects from the top management and PMs.

    Where do I even start with this? Okay, 20% time still exists [google.com]. Eliminating projects that resulted from it just means those engineers can move on to new ideas or join other projects. Saying 'less 20%-time projects' doesn't really make any sense. That perk still exists ... it's possible his strategy was to disassemble those bigger teams so that they get more engineer hobby projects to pick from. If Page was taking Steve Jobs' advice, the 20 percent perk would be eliminated completely and Page would be walking around instructing people what the consumer wants.

    The fact that you think that engineers have 'no experience with product development and more polished projects from the top management and PMs' makes me think you are either management or you live in a fantasy world where management has tricked you. I am a software developer, I do agile development. Guess what? The engineers can do all of what you just listed too! Not having that BS middle management means we get paid more although we have more responsibilities but those responsibilities were already foisted upon us when something went wrong anyway! What does 'more polished projects' mean exactly? Who has always done the polishing and development? It wasn't management and I've often found their direction is a coin flip.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @01:16PM (#38879013)

    Is "adopted" the right word here? It's funny how some people consider that same "influence" to be stealing [forbes.com].

    Of course, the fact that Apple did, indeed, pay Xerox for those ideas, makes it hard for most people to see it as stealing. They got an amazingly good deal because Xerox didn't value what they'd developed. Again, not stealing.

    So very very very wrong [wikipedia.org].

  • by dfghjk (711126) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @02:11PM (#38879633)

    So he introduced a product that had marginal battery life, low capacity for a hard drive system, and only supported the Mac because it was "reserved for the superior customer experience". The original iPod sucked, too, and much of that was available technology of the time. Don't forget, additionally, that the iPod was developed by an outside company and purchased by Apple. Apple's dominance of mp3 was due to money, being a big name in an emerging market, and a commitment to incremental improvement. Apple was the IBM of mp3, it succeeded because of who it was, not the superiority of its product. That came later.

  • Re:Not Even Close (Score:5, Informative)

    by iluvcapra (782887) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @02:35PM (#38879913)

    If Page was taking Steve Jobs' advice, the 20 percent perk would be eliminated completely and Page would be walking around instructing people what the consumer wants.

    The present Google operation is so engineer-centric that they're afraid to even decide what color blue they should use [stopdesign.com] without submitting it to the Cloud for arbitration. The point isn't that the Cloud would give you a bad result, but that their internal groupthink is so strong that they can't even tolerate individual decision-making. Somebody wanted to make a CSS border three pixels wide, and he had to make an empirical case with evidence and metrics. This isn't about agility, it's ideological and engineers trying to stake out a higher moral ground than creatives or commercial interests.

    The whole "eliminate middle management" and "bottom-up" "agile" approach is totally valid in a lot of circumstances, but to be honest I think the open source movement and the whole "cathedral and the bazaar" mentality has totally politicized any conversations about business management. Developers have been blowing their own smoke for so long that they've basically constructed an internal value system where if a product requires marketing, it's not worth making, and if a project requires management, it's not a good project to do, and if the customer doesn't like the deliverable (cuz there weren't any PMs advocating for him) the customer should RTFM.

    The consumer isn't even part of the equation, it's really just a semantic battle over who gets to claim to be the more honco technologist. Google makes tons of money, and Google gives the outward appearance of making money in the "right sort of ways," the ways that most people have made prior commitment to support, so Apple making lots of money is challenging. But it's not a mystery in a business sense, nor even really in a technological sense. It's a moral problem people have, and they use terms like "agility" and "innovation" to frame the moral debate.

    What does 'more polished projects' mean exactly? Who has always done the polishing and development? It wasn't management and I've often found their direction is a coin flip.

    Engineers are way too fast with the "I don't understand this, therefore it must be stupid, arbitrary and redundant" judgement.

    Aside:

    Not having that BS middle management means we get paid more although we have more responsibilities but those responsibilities were already foisted upon us when something went wrong anyway!

    I don't think you understand elasticity of wages. Not having middle managers doesn't mean you get paid more, it means your firm charges the customer less -- laying off programmer middle-managers doesn't suddenly make programmers in demand or curtail their supply, it's actually the opposite, because all those PMs and partner engineers are looking for work and can probably do your job too, and would be happy to take less than you to do it.

    This might have the knock-on effect of making your firm more competitive and keeping you more consistently employed, but the marginal gain of eliminating redundancy does not accrue to the remaining employees. There's a reason the guy that's paid with stock options does the firing: he's the one with the unbounded upside.

  • by YojimboJango (978350) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @02:37PM (#38879949)

    I hate to do this to a +5 insightful, but you're wrong.

    The first iPod that came out was in direct competetion with the nomad zen. The zen had a longer battery life (14 hours vs 10 hours), bigger harddrive (60gig vs 20 gig), usb1.1 and firewire (the iPod only had firewire), a tuner, and a microphone, and worked on windows, osx and linux (the iPod was a pain on osx and a nightmare for windows). I will give you that the interface was a step up after you got your music on it, but viewed side by side, and dollar for dollar (as I did back then), you'd have to wonder what people were smoking when they bought an iPod. They were not competing with cd-mp3 players at all, and they didn't start competing with the flash players till years later.

    The only thing they at had at first had was white headphones and a bunch of monocrome dancing ads, but, as history has shown, marketing beat out the technically superior product. It wasn't till about 2005 that the iPod actually became the superior product.

  • by rylin (688457) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @03:01PM (#38880219)

    The original iPod had 5 or 10GB of disk.
    It wasn't until the Zen that NOMAD got firewire.

    Thanks for playing!

When Dexter's on the Internet, can Hell be far behind?"

Working...