Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Real World Innovation At Work: iPhone 5 Touchscreen Example: Government Would Never Promote Or Invest In This Kind Of Innovation

The current and all the earlier versions of the Apple iPhone have come with working touchscreens. For the next iPhone, the iPhone 5, Apple will use a new touchscreen technology. The new screen combines two parts into one. The glass screen and the touch sensitive layer will be in a single, thinner glass screen.

Screen manufacturing companies invested millions of dollars into this new technology to replace the existing successful touchscreens. The new screens will have two benefits. They are cheaper to make and they are thinner, by about 5 millimeters or 5 percent, than the two replaced parts combined.

Thinner screens weigh less, allow for a larger size with the same weight, and create additional space for the phone to have new components and functions or for a larger battery with a longer time before recharging.

New iPhone 5 Screen Would Be A US Government Innovation Embarrassment

Imagine a government bureaucrat in charge of innovation investment having to explain to a politician that he invested millions of dollars of government funds into an successfully working technology just to make it a little thinner and slightly lighter. Governments do not have any conception of real world innovation. Innovation is usually incremental small steps and process improvements to make the product manufacturing easier, quicker and cheaper. Often it is about finding ways to do things with fewer steps, parts or resources. It is not so much that the end function changes as much as it is about the way the product part is made. Product innovations are often small manufacturing process improvements and often invisible to the consumer. These innovations allow products to become easier and cheaper to make.

Additionally, the companies making the new screens are not the same companies making the older versions of the screens. Likely, the older companies will see their orders decline. Their revenues will also fall and there maybe a need to layoff workers from those factories. Of course, the new factories making the new screens will need to hire more people. Imagine a government investment arm having to explain to Congress why it invested in a technology that did basically the same thing as the old technology but caused company X to lay off its workers.

From The Wall Street Journal, "Next iPhone to Slim Down: New Touch Technology for the Apple Smartphone Will Make Screen Thinner" by Juro Osawa and Lorraine Luk:
The technology integrates touch sensors into the LCD, making it unnecessary to have a separate touch-screen layer. The absence of the layer, usually about half-a-millimeter thick, not only makes the whole screen thinner, but improves the quality of displayed images, said DisplaySearch analyst Hiroshi Hayase.
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For Apple, the new technology would also simplify the supply chain and help cut costs as it would no longer need to buy touch panels and LCD panels from separate suppliers.
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A thinner screen in the next iPhone could make the whole device slimmer, or make extra room available for other components such as batteries.
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At the same time, the adoption of in-cell technology is bad news for makers of conventional touch panels used in many smartphone screens now. Taiwan's Wintek Corp. and TPK Holding Co., which supplied the touch-panel layer of the iPhone 4S screen, didn't get orders for the next iPhone, people familiar with the situation said.

10 comments :

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  3. I don't think that it will be an embarrassment for the government, now that iPhone 5 is making huge sales already I think it will in fact help boost the US economy.

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  5. Apple iPhone have been the most popular smartphone in the market till date. And the most recent version of the iPhone that Apple has yet offered to the consumers is the iPhone 5 Parts
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  6. It's good to know that iphone will come up with new touchscreen technology. I don't understand why government is not agreed on investing on this project.

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  7. The huge success of IPhone 5 will positively affect the country's economy. People are eagerly waiting for the Iphone 6 now.

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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