Walt Mossberg said in his most recent review of the iPad:
“Still, the software looked impressive, and that could help Steve Jobs do the one thing even he has never done in an amazing career: get the public to love not just a better version of an existing type of gadget, but a whole new category of gadget.”
It brought back a thought i have had about products and how they are created, evolved and revolved. Most of the products that come out today are either evolutions or revolutions of existing products. Very very rarely are there actually truly new an innovative products.
When i talk about evolutionary products, i look at products that are continuing to add features, adding performance and slowing moving towards a better product. Most of the phones made today are evolutionary products that continue to change in small slight ways and then marketing/advertising teams work hard to call it innovation.
When we I talk about revolutionary products, i think about products like the iPhone or they Hybrid Car. These are still steps in products that already existed but is such a large step that it feels like a whole new product. iPhone re-introducing touch and making that a central part of the user experience with physics integrated was a revolution, but the concept of a phone, apps, email and even music had been around for some time. It was not a whole new category of product or a whole new solution.
The few true innovations that i can think of in the recent past are Tivo and Eink. I am sure there are others that i have not thought about but these stand out to be me very easily. For years people were trying to build smarter and smarter VCR 1 click remotes and then the Tivo came out and showed us how we need to navigate content and how to really watch/manage tv shows and content. The stopped the focus on channels and moved the focus to the actual shows. It was a whole new category of product that was not just a smaller, or faster or brighter version of something that already existed. EInk has not really hit the mainstream yet but the idea is the same. If we really can move to a model where we will use eInk and ePaper to replace pen/paper for all our hand written content that would be a true change and evolution of a new category.
Right now, I am the founder and CTO of a small company called sliced simple. We are working on software solutions for real estate agents and I think we are building something that is revolutionary. I don’t think it is really going to create a new category of solution but it will definitely change the tool landscape for real estate agents. After this venture, i hope to have the change to build something truly innovative.
What do you think are some innovative solutions out in the world and what do you think of my categorization of the products above?