Apple is currently the largest publicly traded company in the world, having reached that milestone largely by developing the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. However, a former Apple executive says that Apple hasn’t invented anything, according to The Guardian.

Jean-Louis Gassée, who almost became Apple’s president in the 1980s, suggests that despite their success, Cupertino shouldn’t be considered an inventor. Instead, Gassee believes that Apple simply perfects existing products.

Of the iPad, for example, Gassée states:

The basic ingredients are the same. Software is all zeroes and ones, after all. The quantity and order may vary, but that’s about it. Hardware is just protons, neutrons, electrons and photons buzzing around, nothing original. Apple didn’t ‘invent’ anything, the iPad is simply their variation, their interpretation of the well-known tablet recipe.

By definition, Gassée is probably correct. After all, to “invent” is to create something new, which Apple didn’t do with any of their mobile devices.

The iPod, for example, wasn’t the first digital mobile product, just as the iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone.

There is no denying, however, that Apple’s innovations lead to quite a few inventions, which Cupertino now holds through patents. Don’t believe me? Ask a California jury, which recently fined Samsung $1 billion for infringing on many of Apple’s mobile patents.

Therefore, while Gassée’s statement is technically correct, I’m not sure it will change many people’s opinion that Apple is, in fact, an inventor.

After all, Lexus didn’t invent the car, just as Starbucks didn’t invent the cup of coffee. Still, those companies are leaders in their industries, and have remained so by inventing new processes that make their products better.

Gassee worked for Apple from 1981 to 1990 before being fired by then-CEO John Sculley. He replaced Steve Jobs as head of the company’s Macintosh development team.

He is currently a Nokia consultant.

Via: The Guardian