10 April 2013

Seth’s Blog: “Neophilia as a form of hiding”

In contemporary art or movies, it makes perfect sense to be focused on the bleeding edge, on the new idea that’s never been previously contemplated.

But when we’re discussing our goals, our passion and the way we interact with the culture, it seems to me that what works is significantly more important than what's new. Racing to build your organization around the latest social network tool or graphics-rendering technology permits you to spend a lot of time learning the new system and skiing in the fresh powder of the unproven, but it might just distract you from the difficult work of telling the truth, looking people in the eye and making a difference.

Seth Godin

While Gruber applies the logic above to Apple and iOS, is clearly a company exhibiting all the signs of neophilia. From the beginning when it used to launch products and keep them in beta for years to the present day when it axes those services indiscriminately while pushing other questionable initiatives forward, the love of new is the very definition of Google. And while this can keep innovation and competition moving in all those areas where the market stagnated before Google – search, webmail and now even broadband access for the neglected United States – what happens when Google gets tired of them and just leaves to pursue the new shiny, unattainable goal?

Curiously, I was just thinking of this before reading the article from a slightly different, but related angle: that of maturity. Apple and Microsoft can be perceived as more mature companies, creating products and tending to them and their customers for extended periods. Google, with its thirst for novelty, makes changes to products that steer them away from their original purpose – like Docs slowly morphing into a cloud storage and sync service – or drastically alter functionality – the new Gmail compose comes to mind. There’s a lack of maturity in that, a missing sense of direction and of focus, like a child reaching for any new toy he sees. Maybe the world needs someone big to shake it up once in a while, but building upon the revolution and making it part of society is just as important as the revolution itself.

Another example: remember how the first Chromebooks were advertised: ‘you can throw it into a river and pick up another one’? Out with the old, in with the new!

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