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It’s not good to be first. Best to make someone else’s product better.In his latest New Yorker article, “Creation Myth,” Malcolm Gladwell discusses the idea that Steve Jobs stole from Xerox like a “thief in the night.” The story goes that Jobs visited Xerox PARC in 1979, saw what the company was doing with personal computers, and went back to his start-up and told his employees to copy Xerox.
Actually Jobs was doing what many great entrepreneurs do: taking an existing idea and improving it.
Gladwell tells NPR:
“You don’t want to be first, right? You want to be second or third. Facebook is not the first in social media, they’re the third. Similarly, if you look at Steve Jobs’s history, he’s never been first. He wasn’t first with the desktop computer, wasn’t first with the laptop, was way late with the MP3 player, the iPod, and was massively late with the iPhone. He was six years late to the smartphone business. And yet now he has this dominant position. Maybe we’re wrong — we go around thinking the innovator is the first person to conceive of something. Maybe the innovation process continues down the line, to the 2nd and the 3rd entrant into a field.“
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