Raising the discussion

It is a funny old business the technology industry. Despite owing its entire existence to the greatest search for truth and knowledge we have, science, we often seem pretty damn insistent on learning nothing. So before getting to the some real learnings from the past six years I wanted to just quickly cover some of the uninteresting discussions currently ongoing.

— Internet comment thread

There is a lot of fuss over who did anything first in this industry. Who invented the smartphone? It appears we should find this party and credit them with everything that came after. It is not clear why they should get all the credit, but for sure all the products that came after should get none, right? One problem is even if there is a clear inventor of the smartphone so much of that is built on the previous generations of mobile phones. So should we find who invented the mobile phone? But then we find so much of that work goes back to the original land line system, so do we then credit Alexander Graham Bell? But what about Samuel Morse of telegraph and morse code creation that came before? We can keep on going till we are crediting whoever came up with smoke signals or maybe who ever said the first human word?

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
— King James Version of Ecclesiastes 1:9

The next issue is originality. Take an iPhone and you can chop it up and see various parts were already visible in products that shipped years before.

Dedicated graphics chips (GPU's) were being promoted all the way back in 2004. And phones were already on the market by at least 2006.

Phones from 2005 already had accelerometers.

The Webkit browser engine used by both the desktop and mobile versions of Safari and Chrome was already in phones by 2005.

Countless devices already had touchscreens, including this Symbian model from 2000.

Capacitive technology was not only in use in phones it had already  used in the iPod click wheel. 

Todays phones are crazy complex. Just trowing technolgy together does not a great product make. Products do not just spontaneously evolve from these individual elements, just as life does not spontaneously evolve out of peanut butter. Back in 2007 many talented teams were trying to utilise all these great technologies in products and we all failed to make something like an iPhone. The lessons why still fail to be learned. So in the next post lets go back to 2007 and see what was so different and see what can be learned for work we do today.