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Seeking innovation in apps and beyond

End of the Facebook app as we know it? With FB planning to come out with smaller apps serving distinct functions, that does seem like a real possibility. Clearly they believe the omnibus app has become just too unwieldy for the mobile phone.  Instead of one FB app, there will be several.

And let’s assume other app providers pick up this trend.

Fast forward a few years and the mobile space will consist of an agglomeration of numerous smaller apps.  Soon you will probably need something to manage all these apps, a manager of apps, if you will. It all could get pretty complex.

However smaller apps are certainly easier to make changes to. So all you have to do when you come up with the next great idea is to launch another one. Smaller teams, faster execution, more nimble.

But all this still looks to me like tinkering around the edges. Nothing that represents inside-out transformation.

Which brings up a larger theme about the rate of innovation itself.  Fewer new breakthrough ideas have emerged in the mobile app world or even in the larger tech world in recent years.  Ideas that could compare with the original launch of the iPhone and the app ecosystem.

This paucity of innovation likely has been a key driver behind a whole spate of acquisitions. Some with jaw-dropping valuations. The WhatsApp acquisition has been all over the news. And Google has had quite a few of its own: Robotics, thermostats, drone satellites, to name a few.

Difficulties in innovating in the marketplace likely have motivated battles in the courtroom. Case in point: the patent trials between Samsung and Apple.

What we seem to be missing are the truly revolutionary developments. Digital currency, for one, has the look and feel of original innovation. Money that is not issued by central banks. Instead, a commodity that has its origins in technology and is controlled via technology. It needs to flourish. If nothing then just to establish that innovation is alive and well.

Perhaps the next great innovations are likely to arise at the intersection of technology and social change. Google seems to have this on their radar. Robots, satellites, driverless cars: clearly all appear to have potential social benefits.

Economics demands it. So does humanity.

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