WEEK 1 Readings

These articles cite third-party observations and perspectives on the performance of Apple and Google. Both companies are promoted in the popular press as "champions of innovation". Please discuss the similarities and differences between the way that these companies introduce and develop new ideas. Consider the balance between Design and Emergence within these two corporate cultures.

Feel free to offer your own considered opinions but try to follow the 2:1 rule. For every new post that you create, you are asked to add a comment to at least two existing posts.


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Kimberley's picture

The $ 0.99 solution

Poor Apple missing so many opportunities; even worst is that Apple creates these opportunities and everybody is cashing in on it. Why? Apple focused on innovating and very little on designing. Their designs were too bulky and didn't appeal aesthetically. On top of that the advertising is not related to the products at all, so there is a disconnect. Now Apple has finally brought it together; Apple's Advertising has brought new life into the company. It's contemporary and funky beats has brought new blood to Apple. On top of that, they've learned to innovate as well as design. Apple, although not making to much profit, has come up with an amazing idea: Apple decided to have a music library that people can buy music from for only $0.99. Why? Because it's not quite a full dollar people will spend their money; on top of that they have access to it anytime they want. So where is Apple making their money? In ipods and accessories. People who have ipods need to have itunes. These people who buy ipods have a lot of music. It's all about accessibility; on demand, right now. Apple got smarter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Miranda's picture

is this what we really want?

Not to rain on anybody's love fest parade for apple and google but don't you think that apple is doing something with the ipod and itunes that is reminiscent of what companies like rogers and telus do with our cell phones...they lock your cell phone so you can only use it with their network..the same way apple locks their music so you can only listen to it with itunes and an ipod....i think that once you buy something it should be yours to do with what you please.... as for google... love its format and a bit freaked out by what it can learn from me and my random searches but whats more troubling would be if they were ever forced to use their technology for more than profit...makes you wonder how great thing in innovation always turn around to haunt us....

Kimberley's picture


I agree to a certain extent, you should have freedom to use your device with whatever program you want. But, I think from a company's perspective it's the only way to make money. You have to trap people without them knowing it. The device wasn't made with other programs in mind, it was made to profit Apple. To take this further, itunes is the only company that i know of the has the exclusive rights to songs. They've bridged a gap between the music labels and the consumer, who download. I feel with Apple that I have more freedom to choose songs than any other service. I know that when I get a song from itunes that it will be quality; not like the other guy. I don't know what I'll get; it's all in the luck of the draw!

ssirant's picture

A) Altruistic?... B) Clandestine?... or C) both?

the correct answer is c.

Googles' self-proclaimed mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Take some time to really think about this... It's the formula all great conspiracies/coups are made of. It's also the perfect narrative for distopic science fiction. We’ve all heard that big brother would be watching... Whether we’re speaking of conspiracies or coups, Apple just can't compete with Google when it comes to taking over the world. Google in my assessment, is the more disruptive and revolutionary "technology". It think this also qualifies it as the more innovative company.

-Stephanie Sirant

Miranda's picture


I totally agree that google's technology is more disruptive and they've been part of this wave of anti everything...back in the day when google premiered it was the anti search engine without any type of hype or gimmic..the only gimmic was that there was none...and it worked...

Kimkim's picture


Just like we talked about in class, google invent something that they think what user will like or use. and when they finally put infront of users, they will get the result that if it was a success or not. So it's us users to decide if we like it or not. however, Apply come up with something and tell users that they will like Apple's product. so whenever they come up with new product or new design users are kind of 'brainwashed' to 'love' the product. So they don't get to choose either it is successful or not it is already decided for them.

ana.catarina2007's picture


I applaud Apple's innovation, although their obsession with controlling the entire process of innovation has proven to be their enemy. Innovators often lead the trend into unexplored markets, but it is the competitors that learn from their mistakes and benefit from their increased market shares, as was the case with Apple and Microsoft. Google on the other hand handles their innovation differently, they aren’t afraid of making mistakes and of launching products prematurely. They put things out there to see if people like it and opposite of apple actually invite you to participate and give them feedback.
Both Apple and Google have understood, taped into what their customers wanted and capitalized by filling that need. They both have different ways of conducting business, but have found their niches and have become a success in their own right.

aw07er's picture

Apple's innovation factor is

Apple's innovation factor is heavily dependent on factors that aren't immediately present in Google's map. Whereas Google maintains an innovative profile by encouraging pet projects amongst their employees, Apple employ individuals to evolve current hardware or software formats (with exception to the new iMovie, which was in itself a pet project by one of their premier developers) while keeping with aesthetics generated by their designers. What we've seen with Google is their passion for good ideas and bad ideas alike, and while the good ideas always have a place in Google's bubble, the bad ideas are always given second opportunities to become good products because their only sacrifice is time. It is quite a different story for Apple, who've become renown for their hardware offerings and thus we've come to expect the very best computer equipment money can buy. Physical equipment can't be virtualized, and prototyping extends the hands going into Apple's development and research money pool unlike Google's freewheeling convictions.

squid_food's picture

Sour Apples

Though I applaud Apple's innovation and seamless relationships betwixt hardware and software, I've got a bone to pick...

Why do these products only have a shelf life of approximately 2 years? I experienced, to my shagrin, the death of my Powerbook's hard drive and 4th generation iPod, right around the same time. This age of planned obsolesence is getting exasperating, not to mention, expensive. I feel as though Apple is getting greedy, cashing in on their success while they can and what better way than have their products die a fast and painless death right around the corner from the next innovation. It's like like when your dog dies... you get a puppy to ease the pain. "Look how cute my new Nano is. I'm gonna get green to match my eyes. I think I'll name her Clover."

And we go along with it because the iPod, the personal computer, have become our "pets", our signifiers of consumption, our badges of honor. Perhaps my view is antiquated, but if one is purchasing a "premium" product, should they not be cut from a different cloth than say, economoy class? To suggest that a Bentley has the same shelf life as a Hyundai is absurd, is it not? And it's not just planned obsolesence... does anyone remember the issues with iPod's battery life? or when the Nano first came out, and the issues with it's pre-broken-screen? Give us a chance to take the thing out of the box and break it, at least.

I remember hearing in class about the Mac Lite's release being cancelled because Apple didn't want to have a less-than product associated with it's name. I guess once you make a U2 themed product, everything changes. Don't worry, Bono's got your back, Steve.

ana.catarina2007's picture


I have never had an Ipod, everyone talks about how great they are...but are they really? Apple being at the forefront of innovation should reconsider planned obsolescence. Does anyone see anything wrong with a product that is designed to fail? It is only about time before it catches up to them. There is nothing wrong with profiting but why not do it in an environmentally responsible way?

aw07er's picture

Although certainly their is

Although certainly their is a degree of planned obsolescence on Apple's part, they are after all a for-profit company and thus it is their mandate to, well, profit. And what better way is there than to not make your products the epitome of perfect.. While I don't believe that Apple would make a back-handed gesture such as planned obsolescence, they design their products, not to fail, but to expect them to fail.

petey's picture

Apple & Google's Structures of Innovation

Both Apple and Google are the forefront leaders of innovative thinking at its best. Yet there are significant differences in the structure of innovation behind the two companies. Apple is all about the integrater approach which means that the company sees to everything - from the design of the operating systems to the product housing of a particular product. This has its pros and cons as the risk is maximized with each project that Apple undertakes. But the benefit is that, in the eyes of consumers, Apple is all about innovation and quality. As a result we see the polarization of Apple and its competitive products; it's line of gadgets and pc's are often considered to be more prestigeous than the rest. The company certainly does have its downfalls of continued focus on innovation. It is often the case that the innovators lead the trend into unexplored market niches, but competitors learn from mistakes of the past and take up a fare chunk of shares - as it is with the Apple and Microsoft PCs.

Google, on the other hand, believes more in the collective approach and leaves the decision making up to the end-users. This way minimizes the risks associated with each project, and the best initiatives are selected and honed out in the end. To me, the collective intellectual property that constitutes the basis of Google is key to its innovation. As opposed to Apple that prefers to keep its programs and systems in privacy, Google allows the collective whole to fix and improve its many initiatives. Furthermore, it lets the employees devote 20% of his/her time to the pet project. The end result is effective as employees also become shareholders of their own ideas. In the end, it is the innovative passion that drives the company.

Both companies succeed on effectively formulating the magic that constitutes a compelling user experience. The 'wow' factor is what keeps its customers wanting more.

ana.catarina2007's picture

Google believes more in the

Google believes more in the collective approach to innovation and invites the end users to participate and make decisions about what they like or dont like. What would Apple's ipod look like or how would tey behave if Apple users had that same opportunity? What would happen if apple dedicated 20% of their time dreaming up "bad" ideas? As Petey stated, 'Apple prefers to keep its programs and systems in privacy'... would they be less sucessful if they didn't?

shlee's picture

The measure of Success...

It is true that Apple is innovative by revamping previous ideas. They have been successful doing so by not only improving already existing products but by selling a desirable lifestyle. They are traditionally innovative in that their mandate is produce a small amount of products and market them accordingly. I have read somewhere in an interview with Steve Jobs that they say NO to 1,000 ideas to get that one great idea. This is in contrast to Google who believes that if you are "not failing enough, it means you are not trying hard enough".

Both companies are innovative in their own manner. Whereas Apple is focused on innovative ideas, it is Google who believes in an innovative business model. Google's business model allows them to be more creative in their ideas process. Like we discussed in last weeks class, Google plays with the "there is no bad idea" concept. They believe in exploring every idea, because you never know the outcome.

If we measure success by innovation and creativity, it is Google who is victorious, in my opinion. This allows ideas to develop organically which is ideal for a creative environment.
Michelle P.

mtampilic's picture

The success of Apple

I view Apple success as a result of them putting emphasis on the user experience. What differentiated iPod from technically superior devices, was that it was easy to use. Through iTunes it was easy to buy and load mp3s on an iPod. The iPod itself didn't always have the most storage or features, but it had the right ones: an easy to use menu system, scroll wheel... they made portable music easy for people.

This is the same approach Apple Computer used with their line of computers. Introducing a mouse, windows based GUI... they made computing easy.

I think through this strategy they developed their biggest edge over other companies...the Apple cult. Apple never tainted their brand and kept it true and passed this on to their customers. Apple users have one of the biggest brand loyalty in all industries. They make their users feel special.

nseto's picture

Profit, a measure of true success?

Apple and Google are two companies that are regarded as highly innovative. Though their approaches at generating innovation have been and are still questioned by many who believe that in order to be successful, economic gain is a true measure. It is not to say that Apple and Google have not gained financially, but maybe if their approaches to running their businesses were different then they would be even more successful in terms of profit gain.

The Apple approach has always been slow, steady and geared towards an elite market.
Steve Job’s decision to keep as much as possible in-house is so to provide quality and build a reputation that sets them apart from their competitors. As long as Apple aims to target a market aside from the consumer masses, then their profits will never be as high as their counterparts. The Ipod and Itunes Store are two examples of which Apple has approached the masses and been extremely profitable.

Google compared to Apple is extremely profitable. Whether or not they could be more profitable with more experienced and seasoned leaders is left to individual discretion. The “strategic mistake” in announcing Gmail and running test trials before its actual launch, in my opinion, was smart. By being exclusive in their testing of Gmail, it created a viral effect among the masses of email users. People were left with the desire of hopefully being chosen among an elite few to test Google’s new email service.

Sdf.Gdry's picture

Quality vs. Quantity

I agree with the thought of Apple setting themselves apart from other competitors. They have always kept in mind of who they are and what they strive to achieve from the very beginning. The original mac lc was rejected for precisely this reason. It did not measure up to Apple's expectations. And so the one that was introduced in the market was considered costly because Apple chose to not compromise quality for quantity. Therefore with a better quality product, Apple is automatically assumed to be targeting only the elite.

Theresa Lu's picture

The successful companies-Apple & Google

No doubt, Apple and Google companies successfully established the high reputation in world by their different ways. Also I think "Apple" and "Google" became the authoritative names in their fields nowadays.
First, in my opinion, Apple became an fashion icon in our daily life- their products have the obvious strong style and I believe nobody would deny its excellent design. In every Apple's products we can find out the perfection of aesthetic appear combine with the innovated concept, and this is Apple consistent way to creates products. Thus, here I totally agree with Selina's opinion above-"Apple builds upon what they created and extends it".Although there's some negative views about their products(e.g. the ipod not worth that long price because its quality), I think Apple still representative successful company in industrial design field.
Furthermore, Google also is a successful company for their unique treatment to their employees. As a design school student, I understand that having a great atmospere is important for working. Hence, Google is a good example to offers a free and comfortable office area to the employees. Therefore, I believe this is one of the reason that brings the company's successed and it's worth others company to learn from it.
Theresa, Shuyu Lu 2231546

Cyrus Yan's picture

On Success

It seems to me that Google is definitely more successful than Apple. First of all, there is the judgment of success in terms of the amount of profit they make, and Google is way ahead on Apple on that. Second, and I think this is a significant reason for me to say that Google is more successful, is Google's attitude towards coming up with the next big idea. Apple will very careful to select only the most promising idea to explore and develop, but Google on the other hand encourages employees to come up with an endless flow of innovation to try out. This approach gives the seemingly bad ideas a chance to develope and mature, a lot of great ideas started up as bad ones. I think Google is most successful because of their willingness to give every idea a chance to mature.

However, it is also unfair to compare the two companies on their success relative to eachother, Google works with software and Apple works mostly with hardware, so the cost for developing a product is significantly higher for Apple. I guess it also adds up to why Google is more successful, because the nature of their business allows them the freedom to explore without costing an arm and a leg.

Julie_Thompson's picture

Does becoming a fashion icon determine success?

I understand how Tiffany feels that Apple is successful because the iPod has become a "fashion accessory in our daily lives", but I don't necessarily agree because I don't see how that makes Apple successful. If a designer like Louis Vuitton (spelling?) or Gucci produces a handbag with their name on it, does that make them a successful innovator? I guess it all depends on perception. And the root of it stems from social psychology and consumer behavior. When people buy an iPod they are (in my opinion) buying an image. Again, its also a matter of needs vs wants... for instance does anybody really need 5000 songs at their disposal? I will admit that the features of the iPod are incomparable to the other technologies out there, but the ultimate question is if its really necessary. In the past I have referred to myself as AntiPod because I can't buy into the culture created by it. Sure I love music just as much as anyone else and my $60 mp3 player performs the same function as the iPod... it plays songs. I wholeheartedly agree that the iPod is a fashion accessory but viewing a fashion accessory as a measure of success seems a stretch for me. And that was my rant about iPods.

Sdf.Gdry's picture

Personal taste

Its all about personal taste. I like how Julie questioned the definition of success. I find myself questioning the same once in a while. Companies seem to be "successful" because I think they are better promoted. There are so many mp3 players and other devices out there that either have the same functions as the ipod or have more. Yet ipod is the new trend. I think its because Apple knows how to promote themselves. If their products are most discussed in the group or the most displayed in the subways then they are automatically assumed as successful. If i hear about samsung's new mp3 player the first time, i will disregard it. The readings discuss Apple as having low/no profit. This will probably shock most ipod or apple users who live on or like their products. So how should success be defined? I am still in awe of that question.

Kimberley's picture

Shout as loud as you can

I think its who shouts the loudest. We're surrounded with advertising and messages from different types of media. The reason why iPod is so successful is because it's shout the loudest in the most unique way. They have come up with an impressive but simple ad campaign. Apple has reflected the attributes of the company and the product into the ads. Which attracts a particular target audience; which happened to be a big target audience.

petey's picture

Opportunity for Change

I could totally associate with what Sdf. Gdry wrote about disregarding the new samsung mp3 player. I would probably do the same. It's quite a feat that Apple has accomplished - all because the ipod has that "magic" that's so important for all products designed if they were to resonate with the end user. If success is measured in the amount of people using the iPod, then Apple has done it.

But then at the same time, it triggers me to think about what this global cultural association with the iPod means to us? The iPod battery is designed to break down conveniently after 1 year and 1 day - just slightly more than what the warranty covers. This disgusts me as a consumer. I've had countless friends who have complained to me about their ipods malfunctioning after a couple of months. Yet, they went about and purchased another one. The previous headed straight for the dumpsite. Hitherto the current issues of sustainability, Apple should have more in mind than planned obsolescence.

As a consumer, I'm tired of the ipod. I want an alternative - something that's designed with product life cycle in mind and has the "magic" weaved into the lifeless gadget.

sw03ae's picture

Differences and Similarities of Apple and Google

Both Apple and Google have taped into what their customers want and filled that need. Not only did they fill the need, they created the need, the "desire" which wasn't necessarily in the mainstream at the time.

For Apple, their ideas are consistently being developed and improved upon; seeking perfection in their field. In many ways, they have perfected the "aesthetics" quality of their products and marketing which gives them great success. Apple builds upon what they already have and extends that.

Google on the other hand seem to be more of the company that always has new ideas being developed and whether they are successful or not, it's still offered and tested. Especially with how their employees are treated and encouraged to seek out their own "pet projects" it's not surprising that innovative and creative imagination comes through.

-Selina Ann Wong 2183994

Julie_Thompson's picture

Selina makes a good point

I agree with a lot of what Selina said here, especially in terms of how apple builds upon what is already there. From one reading i picked out a quote about Jobs: "“his iTunes software, which had previously been nothing more than a place to store and play digital music on a Mac, would become a gateway to the Music Store"

This reminded me of the exercise in class when we took an existing idea and found a new context for it. So too did apple take existing software and expanded the concept to a new (market) context where their consumer base went from 3% (mac users) to pretty much anyone who owned a computer.

In terms of fulfilling needs: i prefer to think of them as wants because in reality we don't really need the things that these companies provide. I'm sure we've all taken a class or two where we were presented with Maslow's hierarchy of needs and i don't remember seeing iPod on there.

But i do agree that both these companies have had the foresight to project the future desires of consumers and have succeeded in providing the technology that fulfills the dream.

petey's picture

With respect to Selina's

With respect to Selina's take on Apple creating a need for the consumers and fulfilling their desires, I think it is quite valid.

Apple saw the market gap of countless digital music players that do not effectively connect spiritually with the end user. The needs and desires that are fulfilled upon ownership of an iPod range for each person - be it identity or conforming to the norm. Yet, owning an ipod means more than what it is; regardless of the user's age, Apple has successfully linked the iPod to the lifestyle of the owner, making it an indispensable part of their life. In one of the readings a girl even named her iPod "Bob the Music Player."

Without spitting out thousands of models like that of its competitors, Apple has created a sensational line of products that manifested a sub-culture where people of different backgrounds could relate to, and connect with each other.

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