Great ideas aren’t great on their own. It’s the person who takes the idea to market that makes it great.
People have said lately of great innovations like the iPhone (or multi-touch specifically) that Steve Jobs is just plagiarizing from the “pinch” interface that was developed by someone else. People said the same thing when Apple debuted the mouse. People said the same thing about Hertz, Tesla and Marconi with the radio. Or about Sarnoff with the TV.
In the end, the millions of dollars get made by the person who brings the technology to the millions. Lots of people were involved with the critical steps in developing the mouse, the radio, the TV, the PC, the mp3 player. Their credit should be undisputed. But the people who bring those inventions to the world are the ones who deserve the ultimate credit.
Mp3 players were around and marketed for at least five years before the iPod showed up in 2001. Rio, Creative, and others all had great products on the market for us geeks. But it was Apple who perfected the product delivery for the Mp3 player and changed the way the world views music. Cell phones have been around for a while. I’m interested to see how the world changes when multi-touch becomes the standard.
Somebody’s always got an idea as good as yours, or maybe a little better. The race is not among the inventors. The real race is among the people who can truly deliver it the way it needs to be delivered.