Design leaps of faith

I just came across one piece of news on Techmeme about a leaked Acer laptop with dual touchscreens (there’s a photo on that article, but you can imagine it just as well like this: instead of having keyboard and trackpad, you simply have a second screen you can touch to interact with instead). Looking at the photo I couldn’t help but think that there’s companies that take design leaps of faith, and there’s others that simply can’t.

I’m sure you know the quote by Henry Ford where he says (about building the first car) “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. It seems like companies (with few exceptions which end up being copied later) keep making faster horses. In a world of laptops with one screen, a laptop with two is only a faster horse. As a contrasting example: In a world of carrier-dominated cellphones with poor performance and flexibility, an iPhone was true innovation.

This is by no means an “Apple good, Acer bad” post, but sometimes I do wish more companies would take real chances at designing the next car, instead of monkey-patching their way to the next horse.

As a bit of a side note: those interested in innovation, how it works and a bit of history, do check out Scott Berkun’s book “The Myths of Innovation“. It’s a great read.

4 thoughts on “Design leaps of faith

  1. Strikes me this is very much a leap of faith from a hardware company who has now been left without a software partner. I agree using the second screen as a keyboard/touchpad is really just a faster horse as you put it. The advantage Apple has is the control of both software and hardware.

    I wonder if these devices (the Toshiba one as well) all stem from the hype around the Courier from Microsoft. Without the customised OS to fully take advantage, the device is left wanting and I think will be left to gather dust somewhere – at least for now.

    Hopefully Microsoft will come out with its Courier OS one day and we can all enjoy this form factor properly.

  2. I think you may be expecting too much from Acer, at least their computer selling division/company. They become popular in the west because they sold cheaper computers, not better ones nor because they had a truly innovative design.

    They are one of many companies that simply go along the wave, they don’t disrupt because that is taking too much risk and needs more investment, they simply play the market game without taking too much chances and going along the queues of more dynamic and not so risk averse companies.

    I’m just surprised it is taking so long for other companies to launch competitive tablets. What have their R&D and Design divisions been doing all these years? Coming up with HP Envy? Oh wait…

    P.S.: Hope that HP really makes the best out of their acquisition of Palm or that Microsoft or RIM surprises us all.

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