Here’s a video from the people that made the iPhone app Convert, showing all of the different versions that they tried:

Convert Design Evolution from tap tap tap on Vimeo.

There are a couple of things worth noting in this. First, they experimented a lot. They generated a ton of variety, all of which would have been pretty cheap. When I keep talking about failure, people often seem to think that it means that we need to launch products that don’t work, when in fact I mean almost exactly the opposite. We need to do what tap tap tap did, and figure out what doesn’t work before we launch. The second big point is that the big change that makes the whole thing actually work well doesn’t come until about 75% of the way through all of their tinkering (at about 1:10 in the video). This shows again that the big changes often don’t come until you start using things.

(Hat tip to Endless Innovation…)

Student and teacher of innovation - University of Queensland Business School - links to academic papers, twitter, and so on can be found here.

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6 thoughts on “iterations

  1. Haha, it took me quite a while to figure out what they were doing – I don’t own an iPhone. I sat there thinking about how Google could do all or most of what I was seeing.. but not at the touch of a tap-thing. Which made me wonder about what Apple thinks of Google doing things they don’t like. This was an interesting post on The Atlantic trying to figure out just what Google might be up to concerning the iPhone and their own smartphone. The comments, too.

    OT, I’m interested in our economic news of late and wondered if you had any thoughts on that, especially whether it’ll all lead to useful innovation – new economic territory appears to be being forged here.

  2. I’m going to write a post soon about smartphones & Apple (and google too). I can’t quite figure out what’s going on. My suspicion is that Apple is making the same mistake with phones that they made with home computers in the 80s by trying to control everything. But it’s really interesting to read commentary on phones – they end up being a Rorschach test, whatever people write about them tells us a lot more about the people writing the comments than it does about the actual phones. That shows up bigtime in the comments on that article…

    In terms of the US, I’m a bit up in the air too. I know that Obama has assembled probably the best set of economic advisors that I’ve ever seen, so it will be interesting to see how much of an impact they’re able to have (if any!).

  3. The (amazing) Convert video shows evolutionary software design. Each design element (“the incumbent”) stays constant until something better comes along, or is shown buggy. There is a feedback system between testing and development, and that those two roles should never be vested in the same individual.

    The Apple/Google tradeoff is quality vs. flexibility. Apple’s apps cost more, and are stable, but innovation is harder. Like Microsoft, Google is rich yet vulnerable, where Apple’s model is smaller and safe. Apps exist only to grow the core product.

    Apps are deciduous, and Apple is more tree than fruit.

  4. You can actually see the process in the video! It’s pretty cool.

    I agree with you on Apple v Google, but it will take me more words than that to say it! 😀

  5. Ok… Apps are to the corporation as leaves are to the tree.

    Each leaf’s energy grows the tree. More leaves make the tree grow faster. The individual leaves are easily discarded. Diseased leaves harm the tree. The tree can’t survive without it’s leaves.

    So the business choice is about the managed health of the individual leaves. Apple actively discards the unhealthy leaves early, so it has fewer and better leaves. Apple’s corporation grows slower, but is more healthy. Bonsai.

    Google is trying to grow as many leaves as possible. Unhealthy leaves are left to wither and die on their own. Faster growth, but more vulnerable to disease. Evolution. The disease will show up eventually.

    Microsoft is like Google, but is older, bigger. The disease already shows.

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