CES – Copy Everybody Successful?

CES is in full swing, and we’re being treated to the usual bombardment of “next big things” that never seem to amount to much in the long run. This year the hot new gadgets are all ultrabooks, tablets, and smart TVs, many of which no one will ever use. But that’s fine, because the whole point is to think up ground-breaking, futuristic innovations. Like Acer’s new AcerCloud service, Samsung’s SwipeIt, and Lenovo’s new IdeaPad.

Wait – those look just like things Apple introduced last year. Funny how that happens so often, isn’t it? But that’s not my gripe here. OEMs have been scraping by for years by following Apple’s lead, and Apple itself has done its fair share of copying other good ideas. As John Gruber notes:

If you want to defend Samsung, don’t do it by arguing that they don’t copy Apple. Go with the “good artists copy, great artists steal” argument. Argue that Samsung may be shameless but they’re not stupid; that it’s no coincidence that the Android handset maker that’s selling the most phones and growing the fastest is the one most closely mimicking Apple.

Copying is an unfortunate fact of the technology world, but it’s just not something I’d prefer to see at a trade show like CES. Instead of banking off existing designs, throw crazy ideas out and see what happens. That’s the exciting part, not the latest crappy Android tablet of the week.

Edit: Looks like Frederico Viticci of MacStories posted basically the same thing, except longer, earlier, and with more examples. My opinions are in good company.

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