Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking about that now famous (iconic? seminal?) appearance by comedian Lewis C.K. (what’s with that name?) on Conan O’Brien’s show (the NBC one) in which he captures the zeitgeist of the current era in the phrase, “Everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy.”
That’s because two of the technology companies I depend on most, Apple and Google, have introduced new products, or altered radically some of their existing products. Those changes are amazing but they are also making lots of people “not happy.”
Take Apple’s recent overhaul of its video editing software, now called Final Cut ProX. Please. I choose that example because I’m not a user, so I can only feel the pain vicariously of what happens when the company that makes your most important work related tool says, “We’re introducing the most awesome video editing software in the history of mankind and dropping the price by over 60% — but, oh by the way, every project you’ve created on our old version of this won’t work on our new version of this.” No matter how awesome the new, I understand why those who created those projects using the old version are upset.
And Yesterday, Apple started shipping the newest version of its operating system, “Lion,” that includes approaches that literally make things go up, that used to make things go down. For people like me, who do everything possible to keep the desktop of a computer organized and clutter-free, the iPad-influenced interface is a work of art worth hanging in the Louvre. However, for those who have every document they’ve ever created still sitting on their desktop, the interface will look like an episode of Hoarders.
Likewise, Google has been on a tear recently. The interface of the entire suite of Google Apps software has been redesigned with a cleaner look — and the mobile interface of the apps have been completely re-hauled.
And then, there’s Google+ — something that’s either (both?) the second coming or the antichrist.
Those who study and teach innovation (if you can’t innovate…?) use the adjectives continuous and discontinuous to describe two forms of innovation. Continuous innovation is the evolutionary kind: faster, smaller, more cowbell. Discontinuous innovation is the disruptive kind: What do you mean, there’s no keyboard?
In reality, Google and Apple have not introduced anything disruptive over the past few weeks — better executions of existing ideas, perhaps. And maybe they’ll get more people using their version of a certain concept instead of another brand’s version of that concept. And that may be disruptive, but it’s not fundamentally “discontinuous” innovation.
However, both Apple and Google have rolled out some things that are pretty amazing during the past few weeks.
And those of us who are early adopters have spent at least sixty seconds gazing upon them with awe.
Right before we started looking for stuff about them that makes us unhappy.
And you know what? That’s okay.