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Are companies still able to develop innovative business models?

It seems to me that companies are becoming less innovative over time. Worldwide, I see less and less original business model ideas and a lot of copycat when it comes to market a product.
Have you been surprised recently by innovative, unconventional, original business ideas? Does any product or brand comes in mind?

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    Lejan .

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    Nov 15 2012: Personally I am very cautious with the concept of 'innovation', as to me its quality is not measured by its grade of 'newness' yet on the way it is integrated and used within our societies and how it effects the level of 'contentment' of the people on the long run.

    That 'companies are becoming less innovative over time' is not only a 'feeling' you got, it is a fact. And the reason for this is quite simple. Due to the distortion of the original idea of patents and the creation of the new concept of 'intellectual property', companies have lost the need for innovation, as a certain market share becomes guaranteed over time or, even worse, endlessly.

    Also any combination of 'creative minds' and 'accountants' is a recipe for stagnation. And as bigger a company becomes, as more bureaucratic it gets, as as less likely 'innovations' will successfully pass all the hurdles of evaluation and market studies...

    Therefore many big companies are 'buying' new innovations by buying small and creative companies and as soon as those get integrated, the bureaucracy also extinguish those new candles of creative thoughts.

    I have worked in several R&D departments in small, midsize and large companies to find out, that the lack in risk taking and trivializing existant potential is hindering most of all innovations.

    As a whole we could be way further than we are, but we rather focus on short term products and to replace them, than moving on into a sustainable, equal and modern world.

    If you add profit to innovations by ceasing out its true potential for fundamental change, you get what we have today.
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    Gail .

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    Nov 14 2012: The best known products working through an innovative business model are

    and all of the GNU creators.

    These new business models did not start out with the mindset of fighting for market share. They are working on providing a free high-quality product to anyone who wants it. They have achieved a high degree of market share, but that was not their original focus or intent. These products were produced by people who LOVE what they do enough to give away their time and talents in pursuit of that joy.

    That is only one type of example. There are other business models available. Some people do what they love to do, and are very good at, and add a "donations" link to their web site, meaning that money is never mentioned, and money is not the reason that they choose to do what they do. Others never market their business, but the phone rings from word of mouth referrals. Again, money, though it appears, is not the focus. Doing what the owners love to do is the focus.

    If you have a high-quality product or service, it will fly without the resources that traditional business models require.

    If you haven't seen a wealth of alternative business models, you are not looking very hard.

    I'm not sure if you are looking for innovative products or innovative business models. Innovative products would include POD (print on demand) printing that made my memoirs business more affordable for my clients, and because my clients could now afford to buy more books, my business more profitable. Some people are showing others how to double or triple gas mileage by making on-demand hydrogen fuel cells from Ball jars. Again, if you don't see exciting new products, you're not looking very hard.
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    Nov 23 2012: Wait a second, do you mean innovative ways of doing business, or innovative products? I don't see innovative ways of doing business, but I don't think it matters because there are many innovative products. Computers for example are a real innovation. Websites like are very innovative. The internet is very innovative.
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    Nov 15 2012: Probably you are right Stefano. We are becoming less innovative over time.

    Indeed, when people think of innovation, the answer always goes to the digital world (for example Mozilla, Linux, as TedLover said). However, most companies in the digital space are doing something old in a digital way (e.g. social networking, knowledge sharing, education, etc.).
    For me, this is not innovation. It is simply using another channel to deliver a service or sell a product. A smaller tablet, a faster software, or online education are not really innovative businesses, are they?

    So what happens if we exclude the digital space in our search for innovation? Well... in that case, there are almost no examples of truly disruptive, original, crazy business models.

    Maybe the following ideas are helpful to you. I consider these truly innovative and disruptive.
    • Cirque du Soleil, a nice mixture of circus, opera and music that had never been seen before
    • The Kindle from Amazon
    • The tie society, or on shared consumption
    • Any other?

    To Lejan’s point, I totally agree that “creative minds' and 'accountants' is a recipe for stagnation”. However, I do not really see, as he does, examples of small and creative companies being bought by the big ones. At the end of the day, these small companies are not innovative anymore.

    Does this make sense?
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    Nov 14 2012: Principles of success are as old as humanity; pertaining to innovation, i would say that it depends on your perception. I think innovative ideas are always around as long as there are creative people.
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    Nov 14 2012: Definitely not all but some can.
    Innovations were never plenty.........some examples are already in the post below
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    Nov 14 2012: It is natural that most of the enterprises are copycat. There have never been many innovators who have pushed the world forward.

    Today, in the era of globalization and the internet, it is even easier to copy, hence I think your impression that companies are becoming less innovative.

    I think the number of innovators is more or less the same at any time in the history. And it is surprising, because apparently it has nothing to do with the level of education or wealth. Strange!