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Can’t create? Innovate!

On April 3, Apple’s mutant iPod hit the market. The sales of the iPad were so overwhelming that they simply ran out, delaying their European launch. Good for them. Apple has shown us once again that, regardless of the staggering global unemployment rate, you can still sell buttloads of stuff that no one needs.

But what lesson can we learn from this? Is it simply that people will buy just about anything? When you consider the success of Crocs and Snuggies, you may have a point. But what I’ve learned from this is that success in sales is far simpler than once thought. Truth be told, the iPad is not much of an invention. Tablet PCs have been in the market for years, as have PDAs. Before them were laptops, and before them were even bigger laptops. What Apple did was take an existing idea and make it better – the same thing they did with the iPod. They took something that was already widely popular and asked the simple question: what can we do to make it better?

Personally, I think the days of true invention died with the creation of the microwave and the disk drive, and ever since, we’ve been in an innovation age. This makes it far easier for people to develop newer and more exciting things, like automated toilets and paper towel dispensers.

What does this mean for you? Simple. Take a look at the technology in your environment; be it in your car, your kitchen, or your office. Give this technology a good look and ask yourself what could make it better. Developing a brand new idea can be intimidating, so use someone else’s. It’s not stealing, it’s innovation. And as Steve Jobs & Co. has shown, it can make you very successful.

On that note, I have a birthday coming up in July. And a 16gb iPad only goes for about $399. I’m just saying…

Patrick King

Patrick is the Founder of Imagine and advisor to places on brand strategy and creative. His insights have been published in Inc. Magazine, SmartCEO, Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post, and Chief Marketer, among other publications, and shared at conferences throughout the US. He also has an amazing sock collection.


  • Saving for your iPad as I write Patrick. And, yet again, you’re right. True innovation is rare. It’s mostly adaptation which is fine provided it gives real value to what’s already available AND that it actually enhances our lives etc. Not just 90% redundant new bells and whistles!
    Tome Peters called it creative swiping and, yes, it will often increase revenues but what personal satisfaction does it provide to the “adaptor”?
    We need to think better, differently and really push the boat out. We need real and valued innovation.

  • It’s really well done! Respect to author.

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