Walter Isaacson: Google is Innovating at a Higher Rate Than Apple



Today, Walter Isaacson, the author of the best-selling biography “Steve Jobs,” told CNBC’s Squawk Box that Google’s acquisition of Nest Labs is a bigger news story than Apple selling iPhones in China on the world’s largest carrier, China Mobile.

Isaacson acknowledged that Apple’s effort to get the iPhone on China Mobile is a “big deal,” but he said the partnership between Google and Nest:

“Shows the amazingly strong integrated strategy that Google has to connect all of our devices, all of our lives, from our car, to our navigation system, to how our garage doors are going to open.”

Nest’s portfolio of products, including their smart thermostat and smoke detector, will be added to Google’s line of tools which also include Google Glass and self-driving cars. Even more prevalent is the fact that Nest’s co-founder and CEO, Tony Fadell, will also be joining Google as a part of the deal. Fadell was one of the brilliant Apple employees who helped develop the original iPod.

Isaacson says in order for Apple to catch up they need to do something big is 2014, like a wearable device or a television.

“I think Steve Jobs would have wanted as the next disruptive thing to either have wearable-like watches or TV, an easy TV that you can walk into the room and say put on ‘Squawk Box’ … or disrupt the digital camera industry or disrupt textbooks.”

CNBC also interviewed Daniel Ernst, a principal at Hudson Square Research, who said Tim Cook continues to hint toward Apple developing products in new categories.

“Let’s give them the whole calendar year. But I think that the unanimous answer among Apple investors is that this better be the year. There’s only so long the boy can cry wolf.”

Ernst says that Cook should start thinking about who will be on Apple’s board of directors next, since the current board was selected by Steve Jobs.

Apple is set to release the iPhone on China Mobile on Friday, January 17.


  • 350Zed

    A “high rate than”?

  • Nick


  • So acquisition is considered innovation these days?!?

  • FragilityG4

    Has google glass been released yet??

  • Mikhail_T

    Walter really doesn’t know what he’s talking about, does he?

    You’d think after spending time with SJ, he’d understand innovation comes in all forms and takes its own time. It won’t be rushed just because the shareholders/investors are impatient. Nobody cares what the shareholders want, Apple will do whatever they want whenever they want to.

    Who cares what Google bought or have. Apple usually does it better after everybody else come up with the idea, there’s a reason they’re late to the games most of the time. It is because they take the time to come up with a solution that works as a whole experience, not as a part. Apple didn’t invent their categories, they redefined it. Tablets were out long before iPad came out, Microsoft had that market but Apple redefined it. Palm had smartphones market but Apple redefined it. Sony had walkman but Apple redefined it.

    Also, Google’s not innovating, they’re buying those companies (they bought out Android too, so exactly what have they innovated beside search?). They are trying to merge them in, I understand but everybody innovate at their own levels. Google’s not higher than Apple, they’re just more noticeable because Apple’s stealthy about themselves.

    Technically, you can say that Nest is innovating better than Apple/Google in that smart home stuff but Apple simply doesn’t care about that area.

  • Al

    “Shows the amazingly strong integrated strategy that Google has to connect all of our devices, all of our lives, from our car, to our navigation system, to how our garage doors are going to open.”

    My iPhone can connect to my other devices, start my car and tell me where it is, navigate my car, and open my garage door and turn on my lights .., all without the worry of malware.

    Isaacson’s views are unqualified, if not humorous.

  • iFone

    This is by far the best short explanation of what Apple really does. Period.

  • Dustin

    Is he really saying that the iPhone (the world’s most popular camera) hasn’t disrupted the digital camera industry???

  • xxxJDxxx

    The companies take completely different approaches to innovation. Google seems to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. They have launched quite a few things over the years that never really amounted to anything and were eventually discontinued. Apple seems to innovate in secrecy and not reveal much about what they are working on until they have what they feel is a polished and marketable product.
    I’m sure Apple is working on a lot of things that very few people, including Walter, are aware of.