Which Tech Player is Playing Catchup?

Tony Yoon, from last week’s AMA thread:

Have you noticed that a lot of the stuff they talked about at WWDC was eerily similar to what Google announced at I/O – and that multi-functioning iPads are what the Microsoft Surface has been doing? Is Apple playing catch up?

This is how I see the question:

Have you noticed that [Company X] is now doing a lot of what [Company Y] is doing? And now they’re copying what [Company Z] has.

There is no winner in a race that never ends.

Is it “bad” to copy an excellent feature to potentially make another consumer-oriented experience better? Is the feature implemented in a similar, viable fashion – or is the feature implemented better than the original? Does competition increase or decrease? Who loses in these scenarios?

I can tell you who absolutely wins: consumers.

Even if your platform(s) of choice are the ones that are seemingly getting copied from, give the industry another year or two and you’ll find that your platform(s) of choice will likely modify themselves to be more competitive by taking what’s perceived as a value from an alliterative platform.

And, again, all consumers win.

Your product gets better – either directly or indirectly – because of competition. And, as much as religious zealots dislike the notion of rooting for the “enemy,” without a viable alternative, innovation will stall.

So, who is playing catch up in tech?

Everybody. All the time.

And you need it to be that way.