I was wondering the other day whether or not Apple's new aluminum "unibody" laptop is indeed innovative or merely an upgrade. I watched the video from apple.com and walked away scratching my head. It is remarkable that we have the technology to shape a piece aluminum.
Does aluminum shell help improve actual computing performance? Or is it just an aesthetic?
Was changing the body style a customer-demanded change?
I'm not really critical of the new aluminum body on the MacBook. It did get me thinking, though: where do you draw the line between innovation and upgrade?
One way that it is an innovation is it simplified the manufacturing process. Anytime you can reduce the number of parts it takes to produce a product, the more efficient you become. Such simplification has dramatic bottom-line results.
How many people merely use technology? How many people own or leverage technology?
Are there differences between owners and users? Business in general makes a distinction between owners and workers, can the same be said about technology? What are the characteristics of users vs. owners? Here's an initial list of suspected differences:
1) Owners bring a sense of play and experimentation to the process of learning how to use technology -- whether it's a computer or a web application.
2) Users approach technology with trepidation and uncertainty.
3) Owners invest and commit themselves to learning how to work the technology.
4) Users tolerate the technology -- and at the same time appreciate how it could be used.
5) Owners see it as an absolute...as irreplaceable.
6) Users see it as the lesser of two evils.
7) Owners can do magic with technology.
8) Users can barely shuffle the deck with technology.
It seems to me that understanding these differences is important, especially as new technologies are released everyday. I think a lot needs to be learned about how people use/own technology in order to begin building apps that make an appreciable difference -- both personally and professionally.