Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak worries Microsoft is now more innovative than Apple

by David Needle

November 16 2012

Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak says that just improving the current product line is not Apple-style innovation.
Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak says that just improving the current product line is not Apple-style innovation.

That’s a switch. Apple has long had the reputation as one of tech’s biggest innovators, but its cofounder Steven Wozniak is impressed by Microsoft’s recent moves.

During an interview at the TEDx Brussels event, spotted online by Computerworld’s Preston Gralla, Wozniak was asked whether he thought Microsoft has indeed become more innovative than Apple.

Woz (as he’s known) replied:

"[With Microsoft] I've seen more of the type of the innovation where you see something, and whoa, they really changed things drastically, whoa, they aren't even going in the same direction as everyone else, meaning the iPhone and the Android operating system.

"A couple of day ago I read an article where Microsoft has a machine and you'll speak into it English and it will come out Mandarin. And if they're making strides in this valuable voice-recognition area, I fear that Microsoft might have been sitting in their labs trying to innovate with a formula, how do we come up with new ideas, let's not keep doing the same things as before...they might have been doing that for three years, while Apple was just used to cranking out the newest iPhone and falling behind, and that worries me greatly."

Microsoft certainly went in a different direction than Apple and others in developing Windows 8 and its own Surface line of tablets.

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Woz also recalled that Apple had some tough years when his cofounder Steve Jobs was forced out that he said was marked by a lack of innovation.

Instead of “creating something astounding that you're just gasping because it's so unexpected...We just had a formula for making money, and running it, and making the same machine." 

Wozniak added that just improving an existing product “is not Apple-style innovation.”

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  • jameskatt
    1 year 4 months ago

    Steve Wozniak has long ago become irrelevant and obsolete. He also has developed dementia. He planned to retired in New Zealand. He should have started years ago.

  • Skanoza
    1 year 4 months ago

    I feel sorry for Steve Wozniak. Sweet guy, a one-time great engineer but today - clueless as *%$#! He should just shut up and immigrate to the country he's crazy about - Australia!

  • Quadrant
    1 year 5 months ago

    As far as Tim Cook is concerned. He's been with Apple almost since Steve went back. He understands the logistics side of things, he knows how to run the company, even though he's not the great visionary icon that Jobs was. Jobs didn't have the same expertise of Cook, which is what helped them behind the scenes. The visionaries we have now are Jony Ive, and Craig Federighi, and Bob Mansfield. They are the guys that head up the software and hardware design groups. It's just that Apple hasn't really pushed Jony Ive to the forefront in terms of being the "face" of Apple for Press Releases, Product introductions and interfacing with the media. I don't agree with everything that Apple is doing, but I don't know all of the aspects that lead up to their decision making process. We can all play armchair quarterback and come with what WE think Apple should do, but we aren't in THEIR shoes. I think we gave too much credit to Steve as the icon role. Not to say Steve didn't have a good vision. He did in some areas. He didn't always come up with the ideas as much as people might think.

    I think they could use some talent in trying to get Apple to cater more towards the Enterprise crowd a little more. They could do better in that area. I don't know what all of the objections are with corporations standardizing on Apple vs Wintel other than the obvious, but Apple has proven that when you compare the top end AIOs and laptops, the price difference is not that great when comparing to HP, Dell or Lenovo when they are compared to their respective higher end models. Apple really is very competitively priced if you do proper comparisons.

  • Quadrant
    1 year 5 months ago

    In some ways Microsoft is innovative, but in many ways, their innovations don't always add up to something that takes off. Windows 8 maybe innovative in terms of a GUI, but it's not taking off. I don't see anyone really trying to make their product like Windows 8. Innovation is a word that seems to be misused greatly. Plenty of innovations don't go anywhere because they don't really translate into a product people actually want to use. Sometimes, the "innovation" needs tweaking before it's sellable. Plenty of clever "innovations" serve as prototypes, but never see the light of day or do well in the market place. What Apple does is creates an "Innovative" way to do something that may or may not be their original idea, but the way they do it creates something useful. That's what Apple did with the iPhone and iPad. A tablet is nothing new, it was done decades ago by Grid Computer. But, the way Apple created the iPad was the innovation that was a more perfected, useable product that is now in the mode of evolutionary. Google & Co. are copying the iPad, as well as Kindle, Nook, but at this point it's which company executes the direction that addresses the long term growth and use. Unfortunately, Apple had the wrong person in charge of the main part of the devices which was the OS. Because of Forstall's mistakes, the OS has lagged quite a bit. In terms of the hardware, Apple's dependance on Samsung for components hinders them since Samsung goes behind their back and releases their own competing products and Samsung has a tremendous amount of control over what Apple gets, how much they pay for the components and delivery dates. Samsung should not be allowed to sell their own branded products when they are a component mfg selling to Apple and other competitors. It is just a bad business practice. Microsoft has their Surface RT and Pro, but they aren't selling many and now they are ending up having to sell the RT models for probably less than cost just to get rid of inventory. About the only innovation Microsoft came up with was a cover with a keyboard embedded in it. That was the big innovation. Most tablet users don't use a keyboard. Oops.

    Microsoft seems to hold back releasing Office for other platforms so they can see if their own products can get traction.

    I'm sure Microsoft, Apple, etc. have plenty of things in development that some day may see the light of day. Microsoft has always been in more markets from a software perspective, but Microsoft is horrible at marketing their own computer based devices, whether it's a smartphone, tablet, or media player. Apple is very conservative on some levels because they don't want to get caught up in the selling products based on tech specs and price alone. If they did, they wouldn't be profitable and the quality would probably go downhill. Apple's biggest problem was the change over on iOS. OS X just keeps getting better and it takes time to grasp some of Microsoft's market share in the computer space, but they are doing it slowly but surely.

    I wouldn't worry about Microsoft, they seem to be in too many different markets and they always have to rely on Windows and Office licensing to pay their bills and that model might not hold up over the long term.

  • Granchingon
    1 year 5 months ago

    @Cornchip. I agree. Microsoft may have the ideas but the products produced from those ideas truly, truly suck. For the biggest reasons why they suck, just look to the head of the company.

  • tomdri
    1 year 7 months ago

    Tim Cook needs to go. They need someone in there that is able to look to the future and not worry about money. It seems that is all he is interested in. Making sure every one is happy in China and what the stock market is doing today. He is defininately not into making or thinking of the future. Good luck Apple...I am stuck with my Apple iPhone 5 for another year and a half and that new HTC looks great..I have to many Apple products but if the competition continues at the rate they are going I am leaving fast. I dont mind paying a lot of money for a great product, unfortunately Apple is not there anymore. the 5S and IOS 7 I am sure will not do it and LG HTC and Samsung will start making huge leaps if Apple is no longer the Innovator it once was under Steve Jobs

  • Cornchip
    1 year 8 months ago

    Microsoft has always been a highly innovative company. Sadly, they simply suck at creating products that people love to use.

  • HellcatM
    1 year 10 months ago

    Microsoft always innovated more than apple, you just don't always see what they're working on. Microsoft recently started showing off their innovations more. The Microsoft house, to the Surface table computer (as apposed to the hybrid we have now) and many of the other things Microsoft research worked on and is now working on. Microsoft research wise is more like IBM and GE who try and work on things that may come out 10+ years from now unlike apple who just makes phones, tablets and computer.

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