November 25, 2005

Innovation through accretion?

A long time ago, after attending a design and business conference, I wrote a post lamenting innovation fetishization.

Such an obsession with "innovation" worries me. It worries me because I live in a world where the things that already exist typically don't work as well as they should. More time should be spent bringing existing products and services up to snuff, and not focusing on The Next Big Thing. This innovation fetishization becomes a shiny bauble distracting people from paying attention to the here and now.

In a recent post, Gene distinguishes between optimization and innovation, and claims that the new Xbox 360 is an example of the former. In short, the Xbox 360 is like the Xbox, only moreso -- it doesn't innovate, it just does what the Xbox has done, an does it better.

I read his post on the same day that I read a surprisingly glowing review of the new machine in the New York Times. And that review suggests that Microsoft has focused on what I thought appropriate -- making the basic experience *just work*, instead of chasing after something "revolutionary."

And it made me wonder if you can innovate through accretion -- that you reach some threshold for each of your improvements, and the experience improves in some quantum way.

Posted by peterme at 04:17 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


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