The Menu Bar Episode 002: „Everyone Builds A Castle“

The Menu Bar Episode 002: „Everyone Builds A Castle“

What if Apple doesn’t „innovate“?

Well, it could mean that Apple is screwed. But even if Apple is screwed, why would I care?

The only reason Apple could be screwed (and go bankrupt) is them not delivering experiences up to their expectations (so I wouldn’t mind them going bankrupt as a consumer) or they were „out-innovated“ 1 by another company which is even more innovative, so why would I care about Apple anymore? I mean, I can happily move all my data to another platform.

There are Apps for almost everything on any platform, I would just have to find new ones.

I don’t get why people care so deeply.

Wait a moment. Is it because of the stock market? Well, then, I couldn’t care less. Sorry, but I don’t hold Apple Stock.


  1. let’s make a neologism here ↩︎

Innovation, Invention – thoughts from a student

Today, I woke up and as always, just catched up with my twitter feed and found this tweet from (really you should follow him!) @zcichy:

in·no·vate:

“Make changes in something established, esp. by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.”

link

He followed up with:

it·er·a·tion:

“a procedure in which repetition of a sequence of operations yields results successively closer to a desired result”

link

and concluded with:

Iteration is the mechanism that drives innovation.

link

This got me thinking, what really is innovation? Is it all related to what a user notices at his product? Is a laminated display to be considered innovation?

So essentially the question:

Does innovation have to be end user facing? And if yes, please properly define end user. Good luck!

Another nice aspect is that tech companies really really often use the word innovation, but not as predominately as you might think. Yet as the first example to search for, because it’s often mentioned, I searched for Apple regarding innovation, and Apple is obviously making up its thoughts 1. And others, like well established and thoughtful people like Horace Dediu from Asymco is thinking about innovation. At one time at his podcast 2 he sort of analysed the change in speaking in press releases. There is this last paragraph in Apple Press Releases, which is essentially the same but at the same time not:

From 2007:

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players and iTunes online store, and has entered the mobile phone market this year with its revolutionary iPhone.

The word innovation is in there. Now look at 2013:

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.

I don’t see a single mention of innovation.

Related to this, again, asymco has a nice piece.

Studying industrial engineering with economics and a focus on sustainable ressource management,

at one time 3, you might hear the courses “ressource strategies” and get a proper defintion of innovation. So according to my professor, there are 4 types of innovations:

  1. Basic innovation (laying the foundation)
    -They open up whole new fields by introducing a completely new technology, driving economic groth, closely related to Kondratiev wave 4. Best example: steam engine
  2. process innovation
    -You need less input for the same outpout. Example: line production
  3. product innovation
    -Innovation in products, example: sacless vacuum cleaner
  4. organizational innovation
    -Decrease in hierarchy, another example would be the building of Joint Ventures when they never existed before

I leave it up to you to conclude what specific thing falls into which category.

Continuing from the course:

Innovation as a process

has 3 phases:

  1. Invention
    (finding ideas, generating ideas)
  2. Innovation
    (selecting ideas, everything what comes after prototypes, so real products on the market can be counted as innovations, the prototype itself is not an innovation, the product is)
  3. Diffusion
    is happening the moment other companies grap the idea and make something alike. The photocopiers started.

I for myself haven’t concluded yet whether I fully agree with the views of my professor, but as is, this is one scientific definition of innovation.

If you find typos or have some comments and/or ideas, feel free to comment or tweet at me or ADN at me.


  1. They even have a study on it. I didn’t read it, but sounds interesting: ↩︎

  2. Sorry, I don’t remember the specifc episode ↩︎

  3. At university of Augsburg, Germany ↩︎

  4. Think of it as “basic innovation every 45-70 years" ↩︎

File System, iTunes media management

Regarding the file system and it’s effectiveness in not being a good metaphor for most people.

I just heard this quote in the really great new podcast The Menu Bar 1 where they quote-as-remember Steve Jobs

What does really work well is iTunes

I only partly agree. It depends on what you want to do:

  • You want to listen to music, that’s fine. Works great!
  • You want to sync your media with your iHardware? Works great!

But:

  • Ever tried to outsource your media files to an external drive (like all your movies) to save up space on your SSD? On Mac, there is specific software for this 2. On Windows? Well, there is no TuneSpan for Windows. It’s possible, but not at all user friendly. 3
  • Ever tried to grab a file and make a ringtone out of it in Garageband and stuff it back in?

It works really great if you listen to Music. But the moment you needed inter app communication (eg in the case of making a ringtone and cutting it), iTunes badly fails.

What actually is great in the way iTunes manages media

iTunes lets you access your files in the filesystem. That’s it.

You can perfectly go to a user accessible folder and grab your music files. The next step would be to make iTunes detect me moving my files somewhere to a different location.

Add that and I think, we had the perhaps perfect compromise between file system and managed files.

Of course, this will only work great for use cases where one app is dealing with one specific kind of file type. Like media consumption in iTunes case’.

Comparing to iCloud

Ever tried to find your Pages documents you accidentally saved to iCloud? Tried to find them in the Finder? Good luck. The Library folder is actually hidden by default as of 10.7 or 10.8. That’s too much abstraction!

What I want in general

Manage my files for me, but generate a really nice fily system structure, detect changes when I move stuff around on my own, and show me files which could possibly open other apps. iTunes even does this right now 4. Essentially organise the messy “Documents” folder of users.
If you take away the file system part completely, you just make it unnecessarily hard to use. Perhaps, insert tech company here 5 start small like this: Implement a system which manages my files like described above, and the moment I am no longer using the file system, you’ve mastered your job. I will occasionally use it (like activity monitor), but it stays out of the way most of the time. But don’t take it away beforehand.

The unix shell is still available in 2013 on a brand new MacBook. Guess why? Because it can be useful for some people. You can hide it, but don’t cut it out.

It’s not the computers appendix, it’s more like your lungs. Most of the time, you don’t think of breathing, you just do it, and it gets out of your mind, you don’t deal with it, but if you need to, you can breathe like you want 6.

Problems like How do I deal with multiple apps being able to manipulate one file partly remain (they can all implement this file management mechanism). But I think this would be a really huge and great step in the right direction.


  1. Which is from the very nice and smart people Zac Cichy and Andrew J Clark ↩︎

  2. The app is called Tune Span ↩︎

  3. I know, you can argue: Why are you even using iTunes on Windows? ↩︎

  4. Ever had a book in the books section of iTunes or PDFs saved to iBooks on your iDevice, or the digital booklet attached to some iTunes Albums? You click on them and Preview opens the files. – Pun intended right now (at the moment) and right now (correctly at the moment) ↩︎

  5. MS can do this too, not just Apple. Perhaps MS is more likely to go this approach. ↩︎

  6. In some borders of course. It seems really difficult to suffocate just out of your own will. ↩︎

About Link Blogs

I think:

If you linkblog, these are the rules you should follow:

  • If you link to stuff you like, it’s ok to see it as a recommendation and just add a few words. If it’s that good, you don’t have to add more than a little bit, right?
  • If you link to stuff you don’t agree with, then either take the time to write up properly why you don’t like it
  • Mostly link to stuff you like (because that’s readworthy, if you don’t like it, why should anybody else read it 1)

This is the thing you shouldn’t do:

  • Link to something you don’t agree with and add “Idiots” or “Morons” and don’t care to make a proper answer to the original blog post. That’s disrespectful to the original work put into the orignal piece.

If you don’t agree which is perfectly fine, please take the time to write up why, it’s not obvious why you don’t agree! It shows respect for original writing. And if you don’t find time or muse to write it up, just don’t link to it. 2


  1. Unless of course you specifically ask for an opinion on this piece 

  2. There is a good post I don’t completely agree with, but mostly agree with about linkblogs: http://techdistortion.com/wp/archives/991