There are some people, negating the experience of the others, people who like to understand everything for themselves. Usually this does not include companies. Companies which ignore the history of industry file for bankruptcy so fast that they don’t have the chance to learn enough to become successful. That’s why we monitor what giants do, study their experience, work to reproduce their success and avoid their failures.
These days we keep our eyes on Google and Apple. The conflict between these companies is seen by almost everybody who has ever typed “google.com” or kept an iPhone in their hands. They were analyzed as competitors, as former friends who became enemies, as companies having very different stories and very similar impacts to the market… But they’re also symbols. Symbols of two conflicting lifestyles: perfectionism versus uncontrollable innovations.
Every company, especially software development company, tries to be innovative. Being innovative means being ahead of your competitors, making unique offers and finally keeping a monopoly for some period of time. Every company tries to propose a perfect product. Perfect products mean more clients, more loyalty and higher prices. Also less claims and warranty returns. Fewer problems. There is only one problem: these two things are incompatible. While you work on the perfect product, your competitors get ahead. When you’re done, your result is not unique, and vice versa. Everybody is looking for compromise. In terms of perfect/innovative balance, Google and Apple are at polar positions with minimum compromise.
Two lifestyles: Google always uses beta research for their prolonged software development process; it is always ahead of the market, spending little effort for “productizing” and much more for research. Apple never releases their products until the software development and hardware become absolutely perfect. They sacrifice the innovative component. There were thousands of phone models before iPhone, tablet computers before iPad, laptops before macBook. But Apple has perfected them. We see that both strategies are successful. More successful than the compromising approach their competition takes. Why? Because both are clear in understanding and implementation. Both are clear for end users. The choice is easy, the advantages are crystal. It doesn’t matter what the advantage is, if it is simple to understand, the user accepts it and forgives disadvantages. Users don’t forgive sophisticated explanations. Of course, it cannot be said that both approaches work everywhere.
Google’s fault with Nexus One shows that “imperfect, but innovative” is not applicable for the mobile electronics and mobile apps market. The same is likely true for the automotive market too. People want phones to dial, cars to move… regardless of innovations, which are the second most important. Similar, but reversed, is in Internet technologies: the perfect web page is useless if your service gives less than other services. But in boundary areas like for example PC or PDA software every company has to select whether to be perfect or innovative. Both are better than be in the middle, which has virtually no advantages.