gries818 wrote:I'm not sure you are entirely right. Of course you are right that capacitive screens existed before the iPhone, and likely tons of other advanced technologies Apple has made popular existed BEFORE Apple decided to use them.
But merely saying a single technology has existed before doesn't mean its use isn't innovative. In other words, most Apple products are more than the sum of their parts. Apple has become popular again by building reliable devices, intuitive interfaces, and by striking the right blend between new technology and old technology.
Take the iPod for instance. Apple didn't invent the mp3 player (the concept has been around since the 80s, though only practical in the later 90s, early 00s). Apple didn't invent the desktop music player (iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc). But they combined ideas from others in a way that hadn't been done before in iPod+iTunes and innovated a little bit on their own. They built a revolutionary music store which has legitimized online music downloads and changed the way we buy music. They added the click wheel and made a simple user interface (supposedly on the traditional iPods, you can get anywhere in just four clicks).
The same is true for the iPhone. They didn't invent the phone, the smart phone, apps, capacitive screens, etc, but they did bring it together in a package the fits the Apple persona: it's easy and fun to use. And they innovated too... everybody could do apps, but they weren't popular or useful because you had to Google and Google to find apps for Windows Mobile or Palm. Centralize into a store, filter apps to remove spam and viruses, and offer one click installation (and purchasing for paid apps), and you've got an innovation.
I do agree with your assessment of the Apple package, or "experience", as I have heard it put. But, the reason I referred to Steve Jobs as a charismatic dictator is because he really decides or dictates your experience. It's what the tech media refers to as the "walled garden". To some people Apple products may be easy to use, but to many others the limitations make the experience more difficult to use and enjoy. Yet, there are people that will accept limitations to have the "newest and greatest" Apple technology.
I will give you an example of the frustration that my friend had with his iPhone 3G a couple years ago. My friend wanted an iPhone, so he picked up a brand new 3G and brought it over to show it off. He took a picture of me and added the picture to my contact and got ready to take a picture of my wife. She immediately snapped at him because she was 7 months pregnant and didn't want her picture taken while she was pregnant. She asked me to give him a picture that had from before she was pregnant, so I told him to turn on his Bluetooth and I would send it to him from my Nokia N95. 10 minutes later, after trying to send it multiple times I find an article online that says the iPhone's Bluetooth is crippled and will only connect to a headset. So, I transferred the picture to my web server, connected his iPhone to my Wifi network and opened the picture on the iPhone browser. After a few minutes of trying everything, I decided that there must be no way to download a picture from a web page, or Apple just made it incredibly difficult to figure out. I then told him I would e-mail it to him. He said he had a Hotmail account and couldn't get it set up to download his e-mail. So, I e-mailed the picture to my own Gmail account, then using his iPhone logged onto my Gmail account and downloaded the picture. I then removed my Gmail account from his phone... finally with the picture successfully downloaded...
Apple didn't invent the App store, they were just the first ones to call it an "App store". I remember downloading games like Splinter Cell to my Nokia 6200 over Edge (maybe it was GPRS) back in 2004. I didn't Google them, I went to an application on my phone that allowed me access to a variety of Applications, some developed by Nokia and some not. I was able to purchase the Applications and have the cost charged to my Cingular phone bill.
I appreciate that people want choices, that is what spurs competition, which results in better products. You would never believe it, but I was the one that recommended the iPhone 3G to my friend when he wanted a smart phone. He had never owned a smart phone before and I knew his expectations. He likes his phone and will probably get a 5G when they come out. I just don't like hearing that everyone is copying Apple and all of the "innovating" they do, especially when you realize that they are rarely the first to do anything and how restrictive many of their products can be.