Are There Any Original Ideas Left?

It is frustrating enough to feel like there are no original creative ideas left – just look at the major movies and many TV shows that have been produced in the past 5 years. Many movies are based on comic books, television shows or worse, board games. TV seems to be in a mode where if you find a successful formula, you need to then spin that thing out into as many derivative iterations as you can (Law & Order, CSI and NCIS come to mind here as but a few examples).

Technology has traditionally been a place of massive and often frantically paced innovation. Think about the fact that your computer, smartphone or web site is considered a dinosaur if it is 2-3 years old! Tech moves fast. Tech innovates. Tech creates something new when it sees a need. That is what we’ve been told and sold over the past 20 years. Lately though, it feels like we have reached the inevitable plateau in that cycle.

I find it fascinating at how much today’s tech giants are spending huge sums of money to essentially copy each other. What has happened to innovation?

Cases in point:

Twitter – just added gigantic images of photos or video to its streams. There have been a lot of comments to the effect of “why is Twitter trying to make itself into Facebook”? Timing of this change was right before their IPO.

LinkedIn – totally changed the way their updates flowed and displayed (also in advance of their IPO) to make it a lot more like both Facebook and Twitter.

Google – creating Google+ to take on Facebook directly, moving toward semantic search, which at least on some level feels like the old Ask Jeeves search experience. And the Knowledge Graph “cards” showing up in search results, which reminds me at least of the old Apple HyperCards. Remember those?

Facebook – adding Hashtags to be more like Twitter.

Bing – who is forever trying to be Google, without actually being Google.

Yahoo – who doesn’t really seem to know exactly what it wants to be when it grows up, but still feels a little too much like the old AOL home page for them to be happy with where they are.

Apple – whose new iOS 7 operating system is a pretty blatant copy of Windows 8, which was particularly jarring as a company who has been at the leading edge of innovation for so long!

Microsoft – who has been trying to become Apple with their smartphones or Google with Bing.

This part of the cycle can’t last forever. That is just not how the market works. I for one, cannot wait for the next big wave of real innovation! It is one of the things I love most about working in a tech field – the constant change. But, I am ready for some serious Darwinian evolution.

How about you? Do you think tech has stagnated a bit lately? Where do you see the next big thing happening?

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