Technology evolution doesn’t have to be step-change. But it’s nice when it is.
June 13th 2016 was going to be an exciting day for me. At the time, my wife and I were on a small Caribbean island, 4,326 miles from my office. In the spirit and necessity of the startup mentality, I was battling with both the incessant sun glare on my laptop and the patchy wifi beamed from the hotel down to the beach on which I was sitting. At the time our product was in an exciting stage of development and the step up to a new stage in my career left me feeling both liberated and inspired.
But I wasn’t looking forward to June 13th because of a beta software release, nor because I was basking in glorious sunshine as the waves lapped gently onto the shore. Unremarkably, (and possibly a little embarrassingly), my excitement lay in the upcoming Apple WWDC event, upon which had been earmarked the potential release of the new Macbook Pro.
Wind back the clock nine and a half year years. January 9th 2007 and I wasn’t sitting on a beach, but in an Aberdeen flat with the heating turned up full. On this day, hugging a large coffee, I watched Steve Jobs shake up the mobile phone industry with the momentous release of iPhone. And what stood out most from watching that particular keynote wasn’t the first glance of a game-changing full-screen display and a sleekly designed gadget. At 16:45min into the presentation and during a demo of the phone’s iPod app – Mr Job casually explains how to navigate through a list of artists – “I just take my finger, and I scroll.” For me, and many other Earth-dwellers, this was a turning point.
From the point of that quote onwards, user interfaces had changed forever. In parallel, millions of consumers the world over looked in despair at the brick on their desk and immediately began trying to work out when their phone contracts expired.
Back to the beach now, and as I sat watching in anticipation the upcoming release of the Macbook I had been waiting for, I couldn’t help but feel that the step-change innovation I enjoyed a decade earlier feels harder to come by. Not because of a lack of investment in R&D; far from it. But because of the huge expectation we have as consumers – continuous development becomes the norm and what used to be a small number of big steps now becomes a larger number of smaller steps.
Needless to say, the new Macbook wasn’t announced. And I have to say that I didn’t watch the iPhone 7 keynote either. But let’s not forget the huge innovation and incredible development that goes into building new product releases – even those which don’t leave you with your mouth wide open. Positive evolution in technology is an amazing thing.