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Four Approaches to Creativity
Creativity can be examined in a great number of ways. For this paper, the four approaches of creativity will be utilized. They consist of imagination, improvement, investment, and incubation. The imagination-based approach to creativity is focused on the process of creating new ideas, approaches, and other previously unseen concepts. This is the type of creativity that has been associated with Apple products. It would apply to the company’s products that are covered in the paper and those that brought them later success such as iPhone and iPad (Zhu, Song, Ni, Ren & Li, 2016).
The second approach to creativity is called improvement, and its focus lies in the creation of better alternatives to existing ideas and products. Often creative and revolutionary ideas are presented in an unrefined form. This is natural due to there not being a point of reference for what would make a great product. Improvement might be represented through the refinement of the idea itself, or just through the streamlining of the delivery process. For example, Google was not the first search engine, but it improved on the ideas of its competitors in such a way that it soon became the standard in that field (Schmidt & Rosenberg, 2014).
The third approach to creativity is called investment, and it shares a similarity with imagination. The focus of investment is the competitive creation of ideas with the goal of being the first company to provide a new type of product. This process involves the exploitation of competitors’ weaknesses, the fast development of the product, and a general focus on the competitiveness of the company. This type of competition can be seen in the newly formed industry of Virtual Reality where companies such as Oculus and HTC are constantly competing to introduce innovations before the competitor (Gregory, 2017).
The last approach to creativity is called Incubation, and it focuses on fostering creative thinking through cooperation and coordination of teamwork. Collective thinking allows people to refine each other’s ideas which can result in previously unforeseen concepts. For example, the animation studio Pixar has a culture based on open communication between all members of the staff and management. If anything is wrong with the current project, anyone from the team can bring it up and address it. This way, the company has managed to establish itself as not only one of the most consistently high-quality animation studios but also as one of the most creative in the industry (Catmull & Wallace, 2014).
The date of the case study takes place before the company saw great revitalization due to the success of the iPhone, but it allows the reader to see the issue that was plaguing the company. Their approach to creativity was almost entirely based on imagination. Despite being the first company to create a lot of modern computing staples, they have failed to capitalize on the majority of them. Therefore, the company should have attempted to improve on the innovative ideas they created, which is precisely what the company did later.
Advice to Apple
The study was done in 2004. At the time the cellphone market has begun to stagnate with innovation mostly coming from smaller form factors for the devices, rather than functionality, or processing capability. The Apple Newton was the first portable electronic touchscreen device that was focused on providing a variety of everyday functions such as note-taking, schedule management, and others. The phones of the era sometimes included similar functionality, but the limited screen space and unintuitive controls prevented phones from being the default device for these functions. By combining the concepts introduced in Apple Newton and cellular phone technology, Apple could greatly improve on the existing ideas, while also creating a new one.
History shows that although smartphones have existed before the iPhone, the interest they generated was minuscule in comparison to the impact of the iPhone. Apple has quickly become the number one phone manufacturer and would stay there until Samsung and Google created a more open and affordable alternative. While the company still finds success in the improvement approach, the products have slowly lost the interest of the general public. The new models of the iPhone and iPad severely lack innovative features, and the proprietary nature of Apple devices has gone overboard with the removal of such a standardized feature as a headphone jack (Hisrich & Ramadani, 2017).
The phone market is again stagnant. The majority of designs are identical to each other and provide essentially the same feature set with differences in processing power, screen quality, and camera resolution. Perhaps, the company could put its development into more innovative fields. The virtual and Augmented reality is currently in its early days, and its commercial potential is still unproven.
Apple has the capability of pushing any such technology to the consumer level. The current prices for Apple devices indicate that their user base can afford expensive electronics on an almost annual basis and the loyalty of the company’s customers could be utilized to spread positive word of mouth about the product even before it comes out. It is not to say that Apple can capitalize even on poor products, the example of Apple watch shows that there is a limit to what people will buy. However, the level of excitement for a commercial level Apple VR or AR product is likely to outshine any of its current and possible future competitors in that field (Gregory, 2017).
The company would have to come up with creative ideas that could solve the current problems in those industries. Virtual reality currently requires a lot of processing power and can be limited by the wires and additional devices required for operation. However, the solutions for these problems are already being explored, and with Apple’s track record of creating powerful and well-designed electronics, it is likely to find a solution. Augmented reality is more limited by public perception rather than technology.
A simple augmented reality device was created by Google a few years ago. Known as Google Glass, it allowed the users to receive messages, browse the web, and utilize other functions on the surface of glasses. Unfortunately, the project received a lot of bad publicity which created a barrier for any company looking to introduce a similar device. However, some years have passed, and Apple could revitalize the idea by learning from the mistakes Google made during its run.
Tools for Creative Problem Solving
A great number of tools exist for fostering creative problem-solving. TRIZ is one of the more commonly used ones. It is a theory of creative problem solving focused specifically on problems related to patents of inventions. It is based on three ideas. The first is that problems and solutions can reoccur in scientific and industrial cases. The second is that patterns of technical evolution also reoccur. The last one is that innovations often use scientific effects unfamiliar to their fields. This theory applies to Apple as they have filed for a great number of patents and most of their successful innovative products are based on ideas from outside their industries. This is also the tool they are using most often due to their policy of proprietary devices that need patents to stay unique.
Brainstorming is a different tool based on gathering ideas from a group of people. It is a relatively simple technique that is governed by two principles: judgment should be deferred, and that quantity is the goal. All of the ideas of the group are gathered without judgment. Sometimes individual ideas are combined to create new ones. Ideas are elaborated upon, and the best of them are selected. The current conservative nature of Apple’s products suggests a hesitation to approach new ideas within the company.
Creativity is often essential for business. However, the different approaches to creativity might lead to different results. The case study of Apple suggested that the company was primarily using the imagination as their creative approach, but later benefited from moving to improvement. History has shown that it was greatly beneficial.
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Catmull, E., & Wallace, A. (2014). Creativity, Inc. New York, NY: Random House.
Gregory, J. (2017). Virtual reality. North Mankato, MN: Cherry Lake.
Hisrich, R., & Ramadani, V. (2017). Effective entrepreneurial management. New York, NY: Springer International Publishing.
Schmidt, E., & Rosenberg, J. (2014). How Google works. New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing.
Zhu, X., Song, B., Ni, Y., Ren, Y., & Li, R. (2016). Business trends in the digital era. Singapore: Springer Singapore.