What is Apple’s greatest innovation?

These days, you seem to hear a lot about Apple’s recent lack of innovation. While this is a debatable topic, its not hard to hide that many of the pieces of technology that we have today owe at least some element of themselves to an innovation made by Apple. Everyday essentials like our phones, our watches, our music, movies, tv shows, books, our classrooms, offices, and living rooms would not be the same without the great technological strides, nay leaps, made by Apple. But after over 40 years, what is Apple’s greatest contribution to the world? Some might say the obvious answer would be the Mac. It revolutionized the graphical user interface and allowed computers to become ubiquitous, infiltrating every aspect of our daily lives. Others might say Apple’s greatest innovation is the iPhone, a device that made computers more portable than ever before, by putting them in our pockets, disrupting the entire computer industry in the process. Others still might say the iPad, as it’s advent brought with it the first truly great tablet experience. But I don’t think any of these products, or the innovations that they introduced, no, in fact, I don’t think that Apple’s greatest innovations come from additions in their products at all, but rather from omissions in their products. What I mean by this is, Apple hasn’t benefited the industry most by making bold new additions to their products, but by taking things away, and streamlining them. One great example of this comes in the form of the omission of the disk drive on the Mac. If Apple had continued to ship built-in SuperDrives with the Mac, we would have continued to use a superfluous technology for years rather than moving on to more advanced and better technologies, like internet downloads rather than those done with a disc. Furthermore, the removal of arrow keys on the original Mac. The Mac was the first computer to ship with a mouse, which, at the time of its release, was a new and untested technology, with an unsure future. The lack of arrow keys pushed users to use the mouse, where they would of otherwise used a more comfortable alternative in the arrow keys. Without this push, it is impossible to tell whether or not the mouse would of caught on, and if it didn’t, the way we interact with technology today would be exponentially different. Apple’s killing of the headphone jack, premature as it might have been, pushed users to a better user experience, and made AirPods and other wireless earbuds a ubiquitous technology, the same thing the omission of the arrow keys did for mouse. This innovation by omission can also be seen in Apple’s trademark design as well. Apple’s simple design language is what makes attractive. Apple’s design, both in hardware and software form, is simple and attractive by omission, it only takes what it needs. This is a good overall message for Apple’s innovation policy, less is more, simplification is innovation, and all of Apple’s greatest contributions stem from this.

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