Apple Innovation Marches On

Charlene OHanlon

Much has been written about Apple's dedication to innovation, including the most recent comments over the iPhone 4G. Never mind that the only 4G network in the nation is owned by Sprint and the iPhone only works on the AT&T network, the innovation's the thing. When AT&T builds out its 4G network, the iPhone will be ready to go.

Apple's secret to success is in uncannily anticipating what the market wants, even before the market knows that it wants it. It is a case of the carrot driving the donkey. And yet, it works.

But perhaps just as crucial to the company's success are the leadership abilities of its founder and CEO, Steve Jobs. Thirty years after founding Apple, he's still at the helm and he's still excited about what the company is doing. In a recent interview in the Wall Street Journal in which Jobs discusses the iPad and the future of the PC, his enthusiasm for technology and Apple's place in driving that technology is fully apparent. "People laugh at me because I have used the phrase �magical' to describe the iPad," he says. "But it's what I really think."

And we believe him. Jobs still has that spark that makes people want to hear what he has to say. It's apparent when he's onstage-he comes across as likable, approachable-the kind of guy who would answer your e-mail. And he comes across as really caring about what his company is putting out there.

Dare I say it, the folks at Microsoft lost that spark a long time ago. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and company don't exude a desire to build a better mousetrap. Gates had that enthusiasm for a while, but it was gone long before he ceded the crown.

iPhone, in all of its generations, was and is true innovation. It has redefined what a phone can be. Some of its apps can be deemed unnecessary, but on the whole the iPhone broke the mold of mobile communications technology.

The iPad, likewise, is true innovation. I'll admit I was lukewarm to the idea when it debuted. Being slightly enamored of the idea of a netbook yet put off by the fact that just about all of them run the Windows OS, I started thinking the iPad could fill that desire to have a small but useful appliance while commuting on the train or being anywhere I can't have my laptop. Apple, it seems, had anticipated what I wanted before I knew it.


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