Apple Is An Excellent Copycat

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COPOIt used to be that Apple was, without a doubt, considered the king of innovation. Steve Jobs delivered products that changed our lives. Think: iMac. Think: iPhone. Think Different–-you get the gist.

Apple events nowadays, however, are known as much for innovation as they are for copycatting. And yesterday’s annual September iPhone event included several products that—while they may still be on my Christmas list—look awfully familiar.

It could be argued, of course, that Apple can only iterate on their own devices so much each year. And as Jobs biographer Rick Tetzeli pointed out, it took a quarter century to move from the personal computer to the mobile computer, and it could take just as long before we see the next major breakthrough. This shifts the debate from being about whether or not Apple ought to be copying the hard work of others (and to be fair, plenty of companies have copied from Apple over the years) to a more salient question: Whose product does it best?

APPLE PENCIL (SEPTEMBER 2015) VS FIFTYTHREE PENCIL (NOVEMBER 2013)

The name alone caused a flurry of Twitter outrage among the techno-savvy hipster artist elite. Apple outright lifted the “Pencil” name from, well, a real pencil—but that wasn’t the issue. There’s an existing stylus with that same name, FiftyThree’s much-praised Pencil.

Is Apple’s reinvention better?

Apple’s Pencil, judging from the demos during the keynote, is impressive. There’s a virtually undetectable latency–-the time between when you begin pressing the Pencil to the screen and the time the iPad knows you’re doing this. But besides this latency improvement, Apple’s Pencil itself doesn’t actually offer any noticeable drawing features that FiftyThree’s Pencil doesn’t. Both detect varying degrees of pressure to create thick or thin lines, both allow you to draw with the point of the tip or with the tip at an angle.

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