By Loc Truong
Feb. 3, 2011
Steve Jobs didn’t invent portable music, but his fusion of digital sound and visual display revolutionized an entire industry. Few innovations are completely original, but they fill needs by merging existing and new technology to create some interesting advancements.
The iPod is a perfect example of this. Before its release in late 2001, the compact disc player was the most common means of taking tunes on the go. MP3 players were around, but they were expensive and hard to use. Plus, few customers could think of situations where they would need more than a handful of songs at a time.
Yet, Apple Inc. created the iPod after just a single year of R&D. It merged software developed for digital cameras with existing MP3 technology. Apple has since sold 300 million iPods, while the company’s stock soared from just under $9 a share to well over $300 less than a decade later.
But you don’t have to be an electronics guru like Steve Jobs to achieve success using existing practices and technology. Many products come to market every year as an original concept. But it’s likely at least part of its creation is owed to technology that originally had nothing to do with it.
Modern development of photovoltaic cells in the 1960s, for instance, was originally intended for space satellites, devices far removed from traditional power sources. Yet, solar panel technology was later adapted and modified to provide clean, alternative energy for homes and businesses – even where traditional power already is abundant.
Outside of high technology, there is likely no industry where being innovative is so needed than with the green market.
Sustainable products and practices have existed for years. But this sector has moved quickly from niche to mainstream in the past decade, and everyone seems to want a piece of it.