When does corporate mentality overtake innovation?

This week the press has been full of the latest Apple launch. One commentator likened the event to a religious ceremony and there are certainly similarities with the glass temples of California with its devoted faithful worshipping at the altar of MasterCard!

It is certainly a story of incredible growth over the ten years since the launch of the first iPhone, but can we really see Apple as the innovative entrepreneur of the past decade or has it developed into the big corporate that is driven purely by profit?

For let us make no mistake, Apple’s revenues are now staggering. Just a fraction of the money that people will spend on their products this month would provide clean drinking water for 20 years to the 650 million people on the planet that have no access.

But rest assured that people will opt instead for buying the latest revelation from Apple without even questioning it in the same way they used to buy Hoover or Kodak products without questioning.

And, of course, Apple has created this corporate problem for itself. It was they who decided that each year they would make a big announcement and that each year that would include significant ‘enhancements’.

But as people rush to place their orders for the new devices, do they even stop to question, or have they become just an extension of the Apple production line. Research has shown that for most smartphones, on average, there are under 30 apps on the phone (or just over one screen-full) and that most of them came with the phone with only an average of 5 apps being in use from the Apps Store. That is 5 out of the 2.2 million available.

Not surprisingly, the most commonly used apps are those that deal with communications such as social media and messaging. For the paid apps the big money goes to games!

In other words, we have managed to use what was a major innovation in telecommunications to move from face-to-face communications, through video conferencing to the written word as now are main form of communication. This would not be so bad were it to be an efficient communication method. However, we know that written text only transmits 7% of the message, so how many misunderstandings can be made daily and at unconsidered speed.

We now have a world where the smartphone is as indispensible as a handbag or a wallet, where photos of the beauty of our planet and the great sites of the world are obliterated by people taking selfies and where conversation at dinner, (along with the use of a knife) is replaced by one hand sending messages and photos of food to people that are not even there!

Suddenly those private moments between groups, or more importantly, families and couples, become nothing more than an excuse for another social media posting.

In other words, what started out with such good intentions has destroyed much of our communication ability, has replaced true photography with selfies, has opened those parts that should remain private to anyone with access to the Internet and has convinced far too many people that pressing a join button on social media gives them another true friend rather than yet another voyeur on their life.

So the people will now start the charge for iPhones that can take clearer selfies, that don’t require you to attach a wire to your phone if you can wait twice as long for wireless charging, which will give them time to work out how to exist without a ‘home’ button and to study the legal and privacy implications of facial recognition to those without a fingerprint!

Is this a company that takes risks, that identifies a need and solves that need in an innovative way as entrepreneurs typically do, or has it become the latest corporate that tries to create the need to justify its continuation? Meanwhile, as the world feeds the hungry Apple machine, 650 million people are still without clean water.

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