Are innovation and imitation mutually exclusive? A quick look at Big Tech.

Natalia Bochenska, Senior Strategic Marketing Manager in London, UK
10 August 2021

Apple’s newest results came out last week, revealing a new June quarter revenue record of $81.4 billion, up 36% year over year. The tech giant has been focused on creating an ecosystem of products that are more and more ingrained within our daily lives - from iPhones, macs and Apple Watches to services like Apple Pay, Apple TV+, Apple Fitness+, and many more. But how do they stack up against businesses like Google or Microsoft when it comes to shipping innovation?

With WWDC and Google I/O well behind us now, we all had plenty of time to digest how Big Tech is shaping up the trends in the tech, design, and product worlds; and how their advancements impact the way everyone else builds digital products.

But there’s one thing that’s hard to miss when watching these conferences – during every WWDC, we see features that have been enjoyed by Android users for months, if not years already. And in every Google I/O or Microsoft conference, we see things heavily inspired by Apple. And that extends to other brands too –  Instagram launched Face Filters – a product feature originally made famous by Snapchat. Facebook is launching a new watch, quite likely to cover many of the same features as Apple Watch or Fitbit, with an added sprinkle of user fear over their privacy. Google is rumoured to release its long anticipated Google Pixel Watch later this year too. And there was a time when the majority of new start-ups called themselves  ‘Like Airbnb/Uber, but for (fill in the blank)’. 

Why is it that – despite being perceived as innovative and trend-setting – many of the tech giants’ ‘new’ features and product launches look somehow familiar? And are innovation and imitation mutually exclusive? 

In our newest episode, we’re exploring this and more with our Technical Director - Peter Michelsen, Head of Design - Tizz Chapman, and Product Manager - Myers Chatterton, discussing:

  • Whether imitation kills innovation – or drives it 

  • Why digital is more than just a mobile screen

  • What are the next big steps for tech

  • And why analysing (and getting inspiration from) best-in-class examples can help you build better digital products