Discovering products - Steve Jobs and Edwin Land's ability to see things that don't yet exist

From FastCompany’s excerpt from Erik Calonius’ new book Ten Steps Ahead:

“Both of them [Steve Jobs and Edwin Land] had this ability to—well, not invent products, but discover products,” he wrote later. “Both of them said these products have always existed, it’s just that no one had ever seen them before. We were the ones who discovered them.”

Edwin Land was the creator of the Polaroid camera, while Steve Jobs is the creator of, well, the iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, Pixar, and more.

Of course they’re both seeped in the ins and outs of their work. They had what it takes to actually be receptive to that vision and then to execute on in and materialize it.

But I think there’s something very important going on. I think it’s a key to why it’s not been possible for any of Apple’s competitors to copy them. There’s something bigger, something else, going on here, besides mere skill. There’s a sort of ‘divine inspiration’, if you will, that has their competitors flummoxed.

Compare the Zune to the iPod and the Windows Phone or Android to the iPhone. The Zune, Windows Phone, and Android are clearly engineering products, created by the mind. The iPod, iPhone, iPad are envisioned, seen with the heart, and then made into reality.

I think it’s a big and crucial difference.


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