Google versus Apple

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As I was completing my thesis on “rapid innovation“, one of the frequent comment was: “and you’re lucky to work in the digital industry because you can include in your case studies Google and Apple”. As if they were two innovation champions of the same kind…

Google and Apple may seem to share similar innovation patterns from afar, but under the hood, they play totally different ball games. This way, they demonstrate their ability to build their own identity based on a genuinely personal innovation model. Let’s get more in-depth into the comparative analysis.

Leadership and Culture

Google was founded in 1998 by two brilliant engineers and strong leaders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. To take their growth to the next stage, and in response to the well-meaning but strong pressure exerted by their shareholders, they strengthened the team in 2001 by recruiting Eric Schmidt, a manager with an international reputation, as Executive Chairman. On joining the business, Eric Schmidt discovered that 60% of searches were run from areas outside of the USA and set up sales teams to develop operations in Europe. The management style is characterized by the care dedicated to recruitment: Larry Page has always carefully considered each and every application from potential candidates and it is not uncommon for up to 10 recruitment interviews to be held. However, this does not mean that there is no scope for thoughtful open-mindedness: to boost the performance of its network of servers, Google’s 18th employee was a neurosurgeon who had qualified at Harvard and the Yale School of Medicine. Finally, one should note the sense of fun “which is taken very seriously” at Google; the Googleplex site is playfully decorated, with toys, benefits and services available on the premises, while the delicious, cosmopolitan and healthy cuisine symbolizes the sense of enjoyment that presides at Google.

Even though Apple was co-founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, it is really the “baby” of one leader, Steve Jobs, who has not ceased to act as its visionary, charismatic and authoritative head except for during the period when he left the company between 1985 and 2000. It would be possible to say that Steve Jobs has invented himself a super hero outfit in order to be better identified: he is invariably dressed in a black, high-collared T-shirt, jeans and white New Balance tennis shoes; the round spectacles and carefully neglected beard complete his American student look which creates the illusion of eternal youth reminiscent of our childhood heroes. Steve Jobs does not hesitate to get involved: on welcoming Didier Lombard, former Orange France Telecom CEO, and presenting the first iPhone release, he got up, walked around the table and got down on his knees next to the President of France Télécom to show him he could zoom in on pictures using two fingers and how to access his address book. This contagious enthusiasm is one of Apple’s strengths. What is more: Steve Jobs has not become obsessed by power and, according to his colleagues, continues to be a man who is open to criticism provided that it is backed up arguments.

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This post was submitted by superblogger.

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