In The Innovation Manual, David Midgley identifies three categories of challenge from which innovation can spring: customer, technology, business model.
While examples of innovations in the technology category abound, they sometimes mask where the real innovation takes place. For example, the Wii is less about technology than about bringing to the video-game console a whole new range of customers (yoga beginners, grannies and families) that would not be your typical shoot-`em-up PS3 user. Likewise, despite being encapsulated in hi-tech products, Dell’s or Intel’s innovations were really about creating new ways of doing business.
Apple – recently voted the most innovative company – appears to be a case in point. They master all 3 categories to the extent that they purposefully interweave them to create unbeatable formula that altogether:
- disrupt the prevailing business model (the music download industry with iTune/iPod, the publishing and online book retailing industries with iPad)
- open up entire new segment of customers to Apple products (no need to be a Mac aficionado to become an iPhone fan)
- package the whole thing into glamorous hi-tech products that customers love for their intuitive interfaces.
3,000 years after ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, Indian, Chinese and Greek geometers set out to find the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle, Apple have found the magic number to square the innovation circle.
As of today, this number will be known as: Apple Pi.
A presentation of David Midgley’s Innovation Manual can be found at INSEAD Knowledge.
Yann Cramer is an innovation learner, practitioner, sharer, teacher. He’s lived in France, Belgium and the UK, he’s travelled six continents to create development opportunities with customers or suppliers, and run workshops on R&D and Marketing. He writes on www.innovToday.com and on twitter @innovToday.