a16z Podcast

a16z Podcast: Apple and the Case of Invisible But Audible Innovation

Benedict Evans, Steven Sinofsky, and Kyle Russell

Posted September 13, 2016

“Apple isn’t just a tech company; it’s a tastemaker.” Remember the iconic ads of dancing silhouettes in black, with only the headphone wires visible in white? They were a critical part of the larger buy-Apple innovation narrative. So what happens now when those wires — an emblematic and enduring image — are no longer visible, as is the case with the removal of the traditional headphone jack in iPhone 7?

It’s part of a broader story, both about how product narratives are shared/told and about how innovation happens: “amazingly”, subtly, and sometimes, invisibly. Some innovations, like preventing “battery anxiety” or building a platform ecosystem or even laying the tracks for a train that hasn’t arrived yet (“ear computers” or “audible computing“? VR/AR? car?) take time. And a direction we may not be able to anticipate from the outside looking in. …Or so argue the a16zers on this episode of the a16z Podcast featuring in-house analyst Benedict Evans and board partner Steven Sinofsky with Kyle Russell.