Posted by TJ on 8/15/2012Tags: Annoyances, Design, Miscellaneous, OpinionDoes Apple Invent Things?

I saw someone link to a YouTube video that got me to thinking. Now, understand I couldn’t make it through all the utter stupidity in the linked video. I think I got about five minutes in before I shut it off. Here it is if you want a dose of the stupidity that sparked my writing here: Has Apple Really Ever Invented Anything?

To be clear, I don’t think this video (the first 5 minutes) was way off base, just enough to really irritate me. But enough about that, I just want to address the question.

First, let’s define the idea of inventing things. says:

  1. discovery, finding
  2. productive imagination : inventiveness
  3. a : something invented: as (1) : a product of the imagination; especially : a false conception (2) : a device, contrivance, or process originated after study and experiment b : a short keyboard composition featuring two- or three-part counterpoint
  4. the act or process of inventing

Does Apple fit here? Discover, finding, productive imagination… I’d argue yes. Did Apple invent the personal computer? No. Did Apple invent the concept of the graphical user interface we use and love on the Macintosh? No. Did Apple invent the modern computer Operating System? No. Did Apple invent the Smart Phone? No. I could go on but you get the idea.

Okay so what am I saying here? Let’s look at the Operating System. Anybody with programing knowledge and sufficient skill can create an Operating System. I mean, Linux is an Operating System. What’s the difference? The difference is that Apple took the concept of Operating System and built upon it. They invented many of the ideas and conventions that all Operating Systems now use today. They didn’t invent the original concept, but they allowed the original concept to spark their imagination and spur them on to build upon and invent greater things.

Apple did not invent the smart-phone by any means, nor did they invent the components that make the iPhone possible. But the question is, did they invent the iPhone? I would say, and I think anyone with an ounce of sense would agree, that they did indeed. Sure, anyone could have made the iPhone. But the fact is Apple did, everyone else did not.

And where I’m differing with the video is the idea of invention. They even said Apple is a technology ‘recipe’ company — that they know how to take technologies and make good products out of them. No argument here. But why is that disqualified from invention and innovation?

Did Henry Ford invent the ‘Horseless Carriage’? No. Would anyone say he did not invent the Model A? I think not. Henry Ford was an innovator, and an inventor. He is largely responsible for the automobile boom. Frankly I put The Ford Motor Company in the same category as Apple in terms of invention and innovation. Ford made cars for people. The technologies were already out there, Ford took them and improved upon them, iterated, innovated. Apple does the same thing with consumer electronics.

Yes, Apple invents things.