Apple has ridden an incredible wave of innovation and success largely doing the opposite of what Steven Johnson talks about in his book, Where Good Ideas Come From. The premise of Johnson’s book is that the root of all great innovation is the free flow of ideas. Johnson claims that there are no big “eureka” moments in ideation, but rather a series of smaller successes that build on each other. Johnson says true innovation is created through trial and error and in open systems where new combinations of thought can build upon each other and are applied to other platforms.
Ironically, Apple and its IOS have been built largely as closed systems that favor secrecy. Of course Apple has been undeniably successful, using superior products, brilliant design and incredible promotion to launch a seemingly never-ending stream of new products. I wonder what Steve Jobs would have said about Johnson’s book? And now that Apple is embroiled in a controversy with the Justice Department for refusing to release information about and access to the iPhone 5c of the San Bernardino terrorist, how long is this closed company going to be a market leader?
On February 19, The New York Times said the Justice Department is claiming that Apple’s refusal to unlock the iPhone for the FBI “appears to be based on its concern for its business model, public brand and marketing strategy” rather than a legal rationale or the safety and security of the nation. I can’t help but think that we may be seeing the beginning of the end of Apple.
Arguments could be made that Android, with its open platform, is already passing Apple’s technology and innovation. There is no doubt that Steve Jobs was a visionary leader and inventor; but since his passing, it doesn’t seem like Apple has the same game. Samsung has a better phone, the jury is still out on the iWatch, and collaboration — that unique ingredient to modern thought — seems only to be a family affair concept to Apple.
I rarely side with government intervention, but I believe what Johnson says about collective thought and that the Apple model is flawed. For those reasons, and most importantly for the security of our nation against future attacks, I hope that the government prevails in its case against Apple.