Monday, October 03, 2011

Steve Jobs vs Thomas Edison

Author Vaclav Smil says Steve Jobs is no Thomas Edison:
Some 130 years after Edison’s remarkable creation of the electricity system, there still remains no doubt about the fundamental and truly epochal nature of his contributions: the world without electricity has become unimaginable. I bet that 130 years from now our successors will not be able to say the same about Apple’s sleek electronic devices assembled from somebody else’s components and providing services that are not fundamentally different from those offered by competitors. I have no doubt that the world without iPhone or iPad would be perfectly fine. ( h/t marginalrevolution.com )
И знал лишь 
бог седобородый, 
что это — 
животные 

разной породы. (В. Маяковский.)

I think Edison was a much better inventor than Jobs, but Jobs is a much better innovator. In other words, Edison invented a lot of stuff but most of his inventions, including DC-based electricity, didn't scale. On the other hand, Jobs didn't make any first-order inventions, but the systems he put together are used and will be used by everybody on the planet.

In my opinion, 130 years from now people will think our biggest innovation was social networking because it created a new way for humans to interact over space and time. Just like the Edison/Westinghouse/Tesla electricity system, it will have become a key infrastructure element of the civilization.

tags: invention, innovation 

1 comment:

Ren Nesseth said...

This is funny since I consider Edison as an innovator, like Jobs more than an inventor. Neither of their ideas were original, Edison bought the patent for the electric lamp from James Woodward in 1885, and Jobs' iPad can be considered just another version of Kay's Dynabook. Originality is non-existent but both these men made shit happen, and I thank them.