Amazon is about to put a color Kindle to market in the second half of 2012. Why is this news? Because everybody loves pretty pictures and with the online world a visual one, color Kindles were inevitable.
This story actually prompted me to do a Google search for ‘the rate of tech innovation’. I was actually surprised by what I found. Before I delve into that subject here is the color Kindle announcement from Digitimes -
Amazon is likely to launch color e-book readers in the second half of 2012, with makers in the supply chain to begin shipping related parts and components in May, according to industry sources.
Amazon’s new color e-book readers will be built with multi-touch capacitive touch panels instead of infrared touch panels used in the previous mono-color e-book readers, the sources noted.
E Ink Holdings also plans to unveil color EPD products soon, according to company chairman Scott Liu. The color EPD products are likely to be adopted by Amazon, indicated the sources.
Touch panel maker TPK Holding reportedly has landed touch module orders for Amazon’s color e-book readers, the sources added.
Amazon is expected to ship six million e-book readers in 2012, estimated the sources.
While the color Kindle may not be as innovative as cold fusion it does raise the question, what is innovation?
Was the smart phone an innovation? Was the social network an innovation, or mobile check-in applications, or smart wallets? It seems to me that measuring the rate of innovation must first have a baseline definition of the what constitutes innovation.
The telegraph, telephone, television, flight, vaccines, are all game-changing innovations. Just as commercially viable hydrogen power, or cold fusion, or a cure for cancer would all be game-changers.
But are these innovations any different from a smart phone app that monitors a heart pacemaker and alerts hospitals with potentially life threatening abnormalities?
I think perhaps we have entered an age where innovation is relative. What impacts one person’s life is a game-changer for them, but not someone else.
Here is famed tech investor Peter Thiel’s take -
The question about what sorts of innovations we are likely to see in the next 10 or 20 years depends a great deal on what people do. The pessimistic view is that we are living in a society that depends on innovation and science and technology, but that is actually not focusing on these things nearly enough and that as a result, we are headed towards an extended period of stagnation and very slow growth throughout all the nations of the developed world.
The more optimistic view is that we somehow figure out a way to restart the innovative engine that’s probably gotten stalled. And my version of this would be that we go back to where the ’50′s and ’60′s ended and look back at the great technologies people were pursuing at the time; space, robots, artificial intelligence, the next generation of biotechnology and sort of look at where people thought the future of the world was going to be in 1968 and we try to take off from where things got detoured at that time.
The simple fact is that humans are innovative. The rate at which we innovate is driven by need, capital, demand, and other influences that drive us to solve problems. Innovation for me is in the eyes of the beholder.