Thursday, April 5, 2012

Creative Imitation at Work

In my previous blog post, I discussed a concept called "Creative Imitation" introduced by Peter Drucker in his book “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” back in 1985. It's similar to a concept that I call “First Mover Advantage Fallacy” in which I talk about how contrary to popular belief successful innovators don’t always have to be first to market. Often times these first movers are overtaken by copycats who either learn from the first mover’s mistakes and missteps and/or from the naturally evolving maturity of the market in general. (And yes, I came up with the concept independently :)).

Pinning the Creative Imitator
In March 2011, Apple sued Samsung claiming that latter slavishly copied the look, feel, and even packaging of the iPhone and the iPad. Of course, Samsung, while admitting a few look and feel similarities, vehemently denied any flagrant violation of patents, and like any plaintiff worth their salt, counter sued Apple with its own claims. The fact that Samsung might have "creatively imitated" Apple's designs should come as no surprise since many of South Korea's family controlled conglomerates, also called chaebols, have been widely recognized as "congenital imitators" of many things  - cars, electronics, kitchen appliances, and much more.

The Creative Imitator Strike Back...
Whether or not Samsung infringed on any Apple IP is for the courts to decide. The more interesting point is that as Peter Drucker mentioned, and as I did in my discussion of the “First Mover Advantage Fallacy,” sometimes the best "creative imitators" overtake their "first mover" counterparts. At least that's what Samsung might be hoping for with its new  phone/tablet Galaxy Note "phablet" device. The Galaxy Note might look like a piece of toast or a throwback to the 1980s-style brick phone. Yet, Samsung has sold 5 million units in the past quarter and expects to sell at least 10 million Notes devices this year. More than a freak hit, consumer and design experts believe the surprise success of the "phablet" might signify a deeper shift in the fast-paced world of mobile devices. The most obvious thing about the Note is its size with a 5.3 inch screen that is almost as wide as the iPhone's screen is long. The Galaxy Note has also taken a bold step in reintroducing consumers to the stylus, which Apple's co-founder, the late Steve Jobs, famously ridiculed as one of the most non-intuitive ways to interact with a screen.

The Bottom Line - Could Samsung have successfully cracked open the 5-inch device market, where Apple has yet to venture and Dell failed miserably a couple of years ago? Are we about to witness yet another instance of a creative imitator overtaking  the original imitator? Could Apple face the same fate in the iPhone/iPad market with Samsung as it did in the PC market with IBM several decades ago? Only time will tell...

No comments:

Post a Comment