What comes after innovation?

The new iPhone is crap. It’s not called ‘iPhone 5’. It only has a dual processor. It doesn’t have wings.

Apple’s announcement can be said to have underwhelmed the talking heads. Coming on the heels of Amazon’s Kindle it felt a little like they were standing still.

It was inevitable.

When a company releases a breakthrough product, everything after it is a case of enhancement. Innovation is the gunshot which makes us take notice.

And yet we still want to focus on that gunshot when in fact we should be focussing on the effect it has had.

Look at it another way and we see that there are two sides to product development: the solution and the marketing.

The solution is where the innovation occurs. You take a ‘problem’ and find a solution. It’s what led to the iPod, the iPhone, to Google, to Twitter, the Dyson and to all the other technologies that have become ubiquitous in our lives.

Marketing is how it reaches the public. Key messages inform as to what that technology, what that solution, can do for us. Will it let me talk to my family in Australia? Does it enable me to write tragic poetry whilst standing on cliff-tops? Can I use it to find my way to that secret club where we dress up? These are the benefits which innovation can bestow upon me, the humble user.

There comes a point, however, when the majority of people are just quite content with how their benefits are delivered. Whilst some might care about how pin sharp their photos are, more will be happy just to flick through the blurry images they fired off on holiday. Others might want 1080p in order to fully appreciate the bright colours of the shaky handcam film they downloaded. More will be content with the fact that all it took was two simple actions to start watching the latest Tim Allen christmas movie.

In other words, there comes a time when the physical phone no longer matters. How fast a piece of technology is is only relevant when it hinders the benefits it promised to deliver.

Amazon know this. Their innovation is in the ecosystem; in the delivery of benefits. So too is Apple’s. They just didn’t focus on that. If they made any mistakes with their announcement of the 4s, it was in allowing their usual secrecy to complicate their very simple message in a way that never happens with their routine upgrading of the desktop and laptop hardware.

Innovation happens once in a product’s lifetime. After that it’s a question of showing people what it can do for them.