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.