Ex-Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée has made a pretty controversial (but valid) statement in an article for Monday Note, saying that Apple never actually invented anything, explaining it with an anecdote about him making dressing and mayonnaise as a waiter in a French café.
Every day, before service starts, it’s my job to make vinaigrette, remoulade, and mayonnaise, condiments for the hors d’oeuvres (French for appetizers) I’ll wheel around on a little cart — hence the Monsieur Voiture snicker from the chef.
The vinaigrette and remoulade are no problem, but the mayonnaise is not my friend: Day after day, my concoction “splits” and the chef berates me.
Clearly, the episode left its mark, and it came back to mind when I first saw the iPad.
For thirty years, the industry had tried to create a tablet, and it had tried too hard. The devices kept clotting, one after the other. Alan Kay’s Dynabook, Go, Eo, GridPad, various Microsoft-powered Tablet PCs, even Apple’s Newton in the early nineties….they didn’t congeal, nothing took.
Then, in January 2010, Chef Jobs walks on stage with the iPad and it all becomes obvious, easy. Three decades of failures are forgotten.
So, yes, if we stick to the basic ingredients list, Apple didn’t invent anything…not the Apple ][, nor the Macintosh, not the iPod, the iPhone, or the iPad…to say nothing of Apple Stores and App Stores. We’d seen them all before, in one fashion or another.
It’s worth reading the whole article as he makes a good point. Apple didn’t invent, but it revolutionized and that’s what set it apart.
Nobody can deny, as he says, that tablets existed before the iPad or that music players existed before the iPod, but Apple changed them so much that they became unrecognisable from what they once were. Apple didn’t invent. It reinvented.