Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Apple the open innovator

Macworld Expo opened today in San Francisco — unlike the first one 1985, without Apple and also without me.

In honor of the news peg, Forbes writes about Apple’s system integration strategies:

As good as Jobs and his team are at marketing their own inventions, they're even better at repackaging other people's enthusiasm, technology and ideas into something beautiful, and selling them.…

Just take apart Apple's signature product, the Macintosh computer. Crack open the glossy shell and you'll find a machine that runs on the same sorts of Intel processors, Seagate hard drives and Nvidia graphics chips as any machine from Dell or Hewlett-Packard.

While Jobs touts that Apple is different because it makes the "whole widget," the company actually relies heavily on outside innovations. Intel and Nvidia supply the Mac's processors. Companies such as Toshiba and LG provide its glossy displays. Open-source programmers have helped build Apple's signature OS X operating system. And in China, manufacturers such as Foxconn bolt it all together.
In other words, Apple is practicing open innovation. Yes, it is more integrated (with more internal software R&D) than Dell or HP. But compared to IBM in the 1970s or DEC in the 1980s — or even Sun in the 1990s — Apple’s success as a system integrator is more based on external technology sourcing than previous market leaders.

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