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Why Apple Is No. 1 In Innovation--The BW/BCG Survey.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on May 7, 2007

Here are the first 50 of the 1032 responses on the survey explaining why top managers believe Apple is the most innovative company in the world. It makes for fascinating reading. I think the very first reason gets to the heart of Apple’s ability to innovation—using design thinking to create products/services that meet the unmet needs of consumers. Don’t forget, it was the ability of Apple to innovate in many spaces—getting the music companies to agreed to 99 cent pricing, creating wonderful iTunes software, making a terrific physical product, the iPod, that just works in your hand—that gave Steve Jobs his success. It was building an ecosystem of innovation, not just the iPod, that did it.

“The ability to create desire for products no one ever knew that they wanted.

ipod & other products

Because they create the products that people apparently need/want, even before those people know they need/want them.

Ability to target, create, saturate, dominate a market sector.

Ahead of the curve all the time.

New products, new markets

On every front they a willing to be different.

iPOD, iTUNES, iPHONE, Macintosh, OS X

Keep coming out with new products and is always being copied by microsoft, et al.

Creative designs of iPods


History of developing hit consumer friendly products.

innovative products, great ideas

Leading edge, in tune with consumer, applying technology appropriate to consumer

meaning full innovation for the mass market.

Apple is always innovating (e.g., ipod). I really like their products

After having a tough time with Microsoft with personal computers they have found new ways to lure consumers with innovative ideas (I-pod…).

Great innovative music and computers

Renewed itself from a battered position purely thru innovative
products that were usable and like able!

they have great lines of products that are different from what’s out there already

reinvets itself

Releasing various kinds of products and almost all of them are attractive to the consumer.

not just innovative- useful too!

Invented a new segment with IPOD. Manage to get 70 % of the market with a product that does not differ much from competitors.

Apple consistently comes out with products that are both technologically innovative and consumer friendly.

Because they develop ideas that the rest of the world follows. (i.e. all the i-products)

Thinhs like the I Phone

Always came up with innovative products.

Apple’s iPhone was years ahead of the current cellular phones avaialable today

reinvented itself several times - Ipod, new iphone

Consistent innovation

the ability to keep ahead of competitors



Innovative products and design

Understands technology and the consumer that uses it.

The ipod and design of their Macs

IPOD, Apple computers, Steve Jobs

Constant flow of new products

has a history of designing products that meet marketplace, I think they look towards updating all the time.

Uses great design to differentiate and keep margins high
always innovating and great consumer base

Continued leadership in new product development from the first personal computer (Lisa — before the Mac) to iPods, and now mobile phones.

Able to create consumer goods that generate mass appeal and adaptation. Ahead of the curve in terms of R&D and ‘creating’ need for its products before consumers even know that they have that need
Cool design & products

Simply because they excel in innovation

iPod family of products after the Mac was dead.

innovative products for the masses.”

That’s it. Notice the use of the word “innovation.”

Reader Comments

Jacob DeLillo

May 7, 2007 7:12 PM

What? So the top 50 reasons includes 40 different ways to say "I like iPods"?


May 7, 2007 7:28 PM

Plain & simple! Apple is the only hardware company that has full control over the entire end user experience; from the hardware experience to the software experience. This is a really big differentiator that is hard to beat.

Mike Matzke

May 7, 2007 7:50 PM

the only reason apple even has this article is because of the ipod... "Innovation" would be better used with SUN Microsystems.


steve nienaber

May 7, 2007 8:21 PM

They all missed perhaps the most important point: Apple has instituted a CULTURE that puts a premium on inventive thinking, and created an atmosphere where WINNING as an underdog is
paramount. Few companies can match Apple. Maybe none.

Finally, it isn't just the iPod. It's everything they do.


Vijay Anand

May 7, 2007 8:44 PM

Apple is a company who plagiarizes better. Innovation no way they are even close. The windowing concept which apple stole was a xerox innovation. There were lot of other devices like ipod but apple won that because of their brand name. nothing innovative there either. OSX is BSD with a GUI, so really no innovation there. IPhone is such an overhyped crap when cellphones like that existed 4 years ago.
Innovation belongs to different set of companies who take that challenge. Motorola for creating cellular communication, IBM for bringing computers to people, 3COM for introducing ethernet etc.. Apple and innovation is a joke.


May 7, 2007 9:22 PM

I think it's funny to criticize Apple for using the GUI concept created by Xerox and then applaud IBM for "bringing computers to people". Did you forget the Apple II?

The point is, first to market doesn't mean much. First to make something useful, affordable, and accessible means everything.

Gong Szeto

May 7, 2007 10:14 PM

to vijay anand,
i am afraid you confuse "invention" with "innovation".

innovation is about taking incremental (sometimes large strides) improvements to existing ideas.

invention is about creating something from nothing.

please know your meanings before you rant, otherwise you look like an idiot.


Vijay Anand

May 7, 2007 11:26 PM

No I am not confused with invention and innovation.
Wireless communication was an pure invention which preceded far before Motorola came up with an innovative way to make it public.
So did IBM when they found an innovative way to package a PC and lets not forget the original IP's of microprocessor manufacturing is still held by IBM.
Apple on their own didnt come up with anything innovative. They took someone else's innovation and repackaged it. Apple doesn't even close to innovation wrt to asian companies who copy a lot.
I would suggest Gong to refresh your technical knowledge before you make it literature contest.
I didnt say making first makes a successful product but definitely innovative. In the first's league their is no APPLE.


May 8, 2007 4:22 AM

Apple has always been a learder in innovation. But the most important point is that they make the technology so simple to use that in their terms "It just works". We dont even need to think about the technology. The complex operations are also made so simple that it works like any other consumer device like Television or Microwave oven. I guess the master mind and vision of Steve, the grea talents of technocrats at apple and great marketing makes apple so unique and hence the world leader in innovation.


May 8, 2007 7:33 AM

If Apple was so innovative it would be Microsoft or Dell.
Making white products doesn’t mean innovation. It is just like B&O and Alpha Romeo. This is differentiation.
But what is Apple going to do now to protect its market share from sonyeriksson walkman phones?


Vijay Anand

May 8, 2007 3:51 PM

Calling apple leader in innovation is a joke. They take human intelligence to real low levels. How does anyone explain Apple not letting people change batteries in the over hyped Iphone? Thats taking human intelligence down the flush. For any apple device you buy there is no off the shelf software or hardware people can use. It really doesnt let buyers do anything to the device. And all apple cronies Photoshop is neither a game nor that great an application. Putting marketing catch phrases is not innovation Prem. Taking a research idea to an usable product is innovation. Steve jobs is at best a good marketing guy who stole lot of ideas.

Gong Szeto

May 8, 2007 6:25 PM

ok vijay, it's not about invention afterall - you think that being innovative means being original. we're not talking about being original.

name 5 things you think are original and i will name the 5 things that preceded those things on your list. it won't be difficult.

apple is innovative. they might be original, but they sure are innovative.


May 8, 2007 8:10 PM

Steve Jobs is one of a few genius entrepreneurs. I understand that entrepreneurs don't necessarily invent nor discover things. Instead they innovate, but the way Apple does it doesn't seem to have been written anywhere on the textbooks. It's just plain BOLD and GENIUS!

I'm blogging about this.


May 9, 2007 4:16 AM

To my dear Friend Vijay,

I guess Vijay you are confused with the defination of Innovation.
If you see it you will know what it is ..
Innovation means
"something new or different introduced" or
"a creation (a new device or process) resulting from study and experimentation "
"the act of starting something for the first time"

I dont know what are you trying to say. In one sentence you say
"For any apple device you buy there is no off the shelf software or hardware people can use"
On the other hand you say
"Taking a research idea to an usable product is innovation."

I agree that they have stolen all the ideas. But all the other have done so and nobody has been able to stole the idea so well as Apple did.

If you are aware of the history of Apple then though GUI was sleeping in the labs of XEROX, it was Apple who realized the potential and brought it to the people and introduced the concept of GUI to common man. This was how MAC was born. This was how personal computers were intorduces to the world.Before that personal computers occupied the whole room. Seeing this potential followed MS and IBM.

Then came iPod. The apple developed the product in such a way that everybody loved it. Why do you think so many people are bought ipod, still buying and will go on buying it. Seeing the potential the other ocmpanies followed the suit and as a result there are approx 250 kinds of Music Players in the world now.

Talkin about iPhone, you just noticed the battery thing from it and forgot to point out the real innovation in it with multitouch technology (again making it available to local markets from labs to stores)even though there are so many cell phone players in the world world. Why no body so boldly thought of the features ehich iphone is about to offer. The browser in the phone. Man imagine browsing anytime/anywhere and that too full blown kind of browser experience.Its phenomenal. Coming to you battery problem, iPod also had the same kind of cycle. I m sure Apple will solve this issue to in such a creative way that you will love to change the battery again and again. Thats Apple.
You tell me a name of the company who is even inch nearer what iPhone is offering. Don`t tell me about LGs crap industrial ddesign model of phone or some copied chinese version of iphone.If iPhone would have not innovative the other companies will not follow the touch screen interfaces.

There are other innovations too like recently introduced Airport Extereme base station with 802.11n in it, Extreme base station for itunes
and the list wont end dear.

We are so much used to add extra software to our PCs/devices that we do not realize that there are products which do not require anything from outside world. Do not treat Apple products like other products which require something from the outside world. Apple products have their own world itself. Thats the world of innovations because they are now used to the idea of introducing "World`s first" kind of products.

Phew, went a bit long but that too not enough for a MAC fan like me.
So just chill and enjoy the world of Apple. (may be you can use Apple TV for that :) enough !)

Jason Martin

May 10, 2007 2:39 PM

It doesn't matter how many times you're first, if nobody knows what the hell you're selling or how to use it.
The iMac used sexy materials and form language in an innovative way and marketed the desktop PC as a fashion accessory - and people went crazy for it. After that, everywhere you looked, various products were using the language/colourways Apple popularized. Likewise, with their newer iMac, they married functions (monitor + hard drive etc = new product archetype) to create a product that redefined how small a computer could be, and similarly, how hot it could look - and again, people went crazy for it. There is an important aspect of innovation here that hasn't been adequately addressed - the market itself. People want these products - badly, and manufacturers in other industries are quick to demonstrate that beauty and simplicity are not easy targets (Zune anyone?)
While there will always be others getting 'there' first, there will always be Apple, right behind, taking the hulking, ugly piece of user-unfriendly nonsense that someone 'invented', and finding innovative ways to bring it to the consumer in a fun, beautiful, archetypal manner.


July 22, 2009 6:03 AM

vijay babu,

why have you gone quite!!! :)

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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