Clever iPhone app vs. the Transistor

This interesting, and I think, correct article, makes the argument that the word 'innovation' is being watered down and even getting cheapened. It says, about "innovation",

"Regrettably, we now use the term to describe almost anything. It can describe a smartphone app or a social media tool; or it can describe the transistor or the blueprint for a cellphone system. The differences are immense." (from Innovation and the Bell Labs Miracle)

and leads to this:

"The conflation of these different kinds of innovations seems to be leading us toward a belief that small groups of profit-seeking entrepreneurs turning out innovative consumer products are as effective as our innovative forebears.

History does not support this belief. The teams at Bell Labs that invented the laser, transistor and solar cell were not seeking profits. They were seeking understanding. Yet in the process they created not only new products but entirely new -- and lucrative -- industries." (from Innovation and the Bell Labs Miracle)

Excellent points and a useful distinction.

Posted on March 1, 2012 .