Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is a visionary man. His innovatiion vision for Starbucks has catapulted the company to the exalted position of the world’s No. 1 coffee retailer.

Apple Watch

The “wearables” field was already on fire when Apple threw its hat into the ring in 2015. In classic Apple fashion, the company reinvented the category, from interface to Apple Pay, downright to the intricacies of attaching watchbands. When Apple designer Jony Ive stated that the Apple Watch could endanger Switzerland’s traditional watchmaking industry, many industry watchers dismissed the boast as hubris. In October 2015, Swiss watch exports posted their biggest decline in six years with the industry finally acknowledging competition from Apple “on low-end brands.” According to figures from IDC, Apple shipped 11.6 million Apple watches in 2015, generating an impressive $4.5 billion in revenue. The Apple Watch now ranks second between Rolex and Omega as the world’s second biggest-selling watch brand, according to Swiss bank Vontobel, which included Apple more “for amusement” than for consideration as competition with high-end Swiss watches. Apple Inc. Website: Year (of first major innovation): 1984 Innovations: Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, wireless checkout, retailing, mobile payments Innovation Types: Product, Process, Supply Chain

Allergan Botox

What can you say about the product that has inspired Botox parties, Botox gift cards and Botox humor? It’s a spectacular success for its maker Allergan, which reported that sales in second quarter 2016 reached $720 million, an annual run rate of $2.9 billion. In fourth quarter 2015, Botox revenue jumped 43% to reach $656 million, evidence the growing global momentum of the wrinkle remover. While Botox was originally approved by the FDA to treat lines that form between the eyebrows, its use has expanded significantly. In 2013, the agency approved the use of Botox to treat adults with an overactive bladder. The FDA said that when Botox is injected into the bladder muscle, it causes the bladder to relax. It even helps prevent excessive underarm sweating. A remedy for treating wrinkles, bladders and sweating? Now that’s what you call an innovative solution! Allergan Inc. Website: Year (of first major innovation): 2002 Innovations: Botulins, dermal fillers Innovation Types: Product


AirBnB has ushered in the concept of “home optimization,” offering homeowners the same opportunity to boost cash flow the major airlines have enjoyed for years, a disruptive innovation. The option of staying in someone’s private dwelling as an alternative to hotels can be truly liberating. Many times it’s cheaper too. It will be fascinating to see what happens when far more people catch on that they can use their real estate inventory to generate cash, while meeting some nice people. AirBnB is sending shockwaves through the $550 billion global hotel industry. The company announced in February 2016 that it has hosted 70 million guests to date. On Sept. 22, 2016, AirBnB raised $555 million at a $30 billion valuation. AirBnB Inc. Website: Year established: 2008 Innovation: Home optimization Innovation Type: Product, Supply Chain


Amazon has changed the way we shop in America. A survey this week found that more than half of U.S. online consumers begin their product searches on’s site or mobile app. While Amazon’s launch business model was not unique in the 90s, how it has transformed itself as an innovator today is. AWS – Amazon’s first business model transformation came with the launch of Amazon Web Services in 2006. It was orthogonal thinking at its best. Why not offer cloud services using our well-tested platform? AWS is now the company’s biggest source of profits and is on track to bring in more than $10 billion a year in revenue. Kiva Systems – The acquisition of Kiva Systems in 2012 for $775 million was a stroke of genius. As Bloomberg notes, Amazon has effectively shut out its competitors from the warehouse robot market. According to Amazon Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations and Customer Service Dave Clark, the addition of Kiva bots reduced operating expenses by about 20%. Alexa – Its voice-command driven Echo speaker has become the darling of the connected home industry. With Alexa, Amazon has brought order to the cacophony of smart home devices. What solidifies Amazon’s power over brick and mortar are its buyer product reviews. Few media pundits acknowledge how far-reaching the impact of Amazon’s contributed content is. That explains why Amazon has become the product buying starting point for …

How Do You Create A Winning Innovation Strategy?

Now that the concept of innovation is defined, its history covered and its current importance explained, it’s time to apply innovation to your business. An innovation strategy should be a crucial part of any business model although often ignored to the detriment of companies trying to keep up in the digital age. The following considerations will help you identify and foster potential innovation opportunities within your organization. The McKinsey Global Institute provides a detailed analysis of eight essentials for creativity at the organizational level to help “rekindle the lost spark of innovation”. Here are some highlights from the report: Aspire – Develop an aspirational business plan with clearly defined financial objectives. Encourage innovation at every level of your organization by challenging your employees to meet these goals. Choose – Decide which ideas to fund and support. Larger companies initiate several projects at once to see how they fare in the market before fully financing the most successful ones and letting the less productive ideas die out. Discover – Search for a problem to solve for your target market, the solution to that problem, and a business model that will generate profit. McKinsey calls this the insight discovery process. Evolve – Evolve your business to stay competitive, informing changes with thorough market research. Accelerate – Speed up the push to get new technologies to market by involving a focus group or soft launching early on in …

Virtual Reality

If you are in possession of an Oculus Rift headset marketed by Facebook and its partners, such as Samsung Gear VR, Asus and other Oculus Ready PCs, you can enjoy a virtual reality tour through Yosemite narrated by President Barack Obama. It’s the latest in a long series of high-profile announcements that have stirred the virtual reality (VR) pot, in 3D of course. While it may be easy to dismiss today’s virtual reality mania as hype, anyone who has personally experienced the immersive qualities of virtual reality knows that it will reframe entertainment as we know it. VR’s closest cousin, augmented reality (AR), got a big shot in the arm this summer when the popular mobile game Pokémon exploded to 45 million daily users in mid-July. True to its métier, Pokémon mixes digital imagery with the real world, presenting an evolution of the Yelp Monocle and Layar augmented reality browsers. Here’s a brief summary of the most significant turn of events in VR: Oculus Rift – The $2 billion acquisition of Oculus Rift by Facebook in March 2014 was a major turning point for the nascent VR market. Magic Leap – In October 2014, Google poured $542 million into an AR startup based in Plantation, Fla., called Magic Leap. The chart below shows major VR and AR market acquisitions and capitalizations, save for Faceshift and Polar Rose, which both, like Metaio, were acquired by Apple: …

When Did Innovation Become in Vogue?

Innovation is at the top of everyone’s agenda these days. Why? Because the executive mindset changed markedly in the 1990s. Global competition, the internet, and the onslaught of more than 40,000 product launches each year all helped change a lot of minds. Transformative conversations about modern innovation arose from bestselling books published in the 1980s and 1990s. Peter Drucker’s 1985 “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” was a pioneering text that defined entrepreneurship and the constant search for innovative ideas. But it was the 1996 release of James Utterback’s “Mastering the Dynamics of Innovation” and Harvard professor Clayton Christensen’s 1997 “The Innovator’s Dilemma” that put innovation in the spotlight. A McKinsey survey shows just how much the “C” suite pivoted on the question of wanting to become a “category innovation leader.” In 1993, 37% of executives surveyed reported wanting to become an innovation leader, while 26% wanted to remain a “follower.” By 1999 no one wanted to be a follower and 95% wanted to lead the innovation pack: FusionCharts XT will load here! The year of 1999 was, of course, the peak of dot-com mania, a period that saw dizzying valuations ascribed to technology innovators. The insanity may have faded but as the table below pointedly illustrates, the value of innovation is unassailable: 2006/2016 Comparison of Five largest U.S. Companies by Market Cap If you had captured that table a few weeks earlier, ExxonMobil would have not even …

Why Innovation Now?

“Innovation is one of the key drivers of everything that goes on in business,” says London Business School Dean Sir Andrew Likierman. Organizations realize that innovation keeps them on the cutting edge of everything from technology to lifestyle to marketing and entertainment. Why has innovation become so important? As Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates puts it, “Innovation fundamentally shifts the trajectory of development.” Two insightful examples of how innovation changes market trajectories are Apple and Google. Both companies launched disruptive technologies that significantly changed the destinies of their respective markets. Apple, in particular, is one of the most stellar examples of how innovation can catapult a company forward. In 2001, Apple’s revenues were down $2.6 billion, compared to the $8 billion in fiscal year 2000 revenues. In a little over a decade, Apple went from a loss-making company to the world’s most valuable corporation. The lesson was not lost on the executive suite. By July 2011, just four years after the iPhone shipped, a global survey by Forbes and Wipro reported that two-thirds of C-level executives (PDF) believed that innovation was more critical than ever, in particular in light of the economic downturn of 2008-09. Another way to gauge the importance of innovation in the workplace is by examining job titles. In August 2010, only 700 people reported having the words “Chief Innovation Officer” in their LinkedIn profile title. That number skyrocketed to 8,471 by August …

What Is Innovation?

The Wall Street Journal notes that “Innovation is hardly a new term. The word, which derives from the Latin noun ‘innovatus,’ meaning renewal or change, appeared in print as early as the 15th century.” The concept of innovation goes back even farther in time. Innovation was a key characteristic of our early ancestors and a defining factor in the survival of our species. Innovations like the use of controlled fire and the development of language and tools during the Stone Age made it possible for humans to distinguish ourselves from other animals. Fast forward to modern times, and we can see that the past 500 years has produced at least one major transformational innovation during each century, including the microscope, telescope, the engine and the light bulb. Without a doubt, the smartphone is the most important invention of the 21st century thus far. It has given people the freedom to coordinate and enrich their lives no matter where they are. Mobile applications, or apps, create the ultimate user experience by allowing users to customize their platforms. This brief overview of human innovation not only reminds us of some of the greatest inventions of all time but also highlights the importance human creativity and ingenuity in creating the technological advancements that help us live healthier, happier and more accomplished lives. Innovation Definition Merriam-Webster defines innovation as 1. a new idea, device, or method 2. the act …

Innovation 101

Innovation facts and tips for your business We are in the midst of an era of sweeping changes, with major problems to solve, such as poverty, and new places to go, like Mars. With all of the recurring talk of change and reinvention, it’s a given that the word innovation is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Apple Co-Founder Steve Jobs believed that innovation distinguishes a leader from a follower. Disney CEO Bob Iger famously said that the heart and soul of a company are creativity and innovation. But what exactly is innovation? What has it contributed to humanity throughout history and how do past inventions compare to those of today? How do you know it when you see it? This ubercool INNOVATION guide will break it all down for you, giving you the background you need to create a clear and integrated innovative strategy for your organization. The table of contents for this guide is below. As more innovation articles go live, these preliminary titles will become live links. So come back frequently to discover new and updated content. 01. What Is Innovation? 02. When Did Innovation Become in Vogue? 03. Why Innovation Now? 04. How Do You Create A Winning Innovation Strategy? 05. The Challenge of Innovating Within a Large Company 06. Can Innovation Culture Thrive in an Age of Startups? 07. Putting the Pedal to the Metal: Jumpstarting Your Innovation Efforts 08. …

T-Mobile USA

T-Mobile USA has reinvented the U.S. mobile phone industry once again. In 2013, the company famously abolished phone subsidies. The entire industry followed suit. Now T-Mobile promises that every customer will get one share of stock. Will other carriers follow that innovative lead too? Let there be no mistake. T-Mobile, under the leadership of the irascible CEO John Legere has reshaped the U.S. cellphone industry with non-stop innovation: March 2013 – On March 26, 2013, T-Mobile became the “Uncarrier,” launching new service plans that did away with contracts and phone subsidies. It was a disruptive move for a fourth-place carrier. By January 2016, AT&T and Sprint became the last companies to offer a two-year contract, although Sprint changed its mind one month later. October 2013 – For T-Mobile customers traveling abroad calling became cheaper, texting free and data unlimited, albeit capped at slower 2G speeds. So users without an expense account could afford to take their phone on overseas trips without leaving it in airplane mode. June 2014 – T-Mobile customers could now stream music from services like Spotify, without worrying about data caps. November 2015 – T-Mobile’s “Binge On” lets customers stream video from 24 popular services, including HBO, Netflix and ESPN, without racking up data charges. June 2016 – On Monday, Legere gamely announced T-Mobile’s 11th “un-carrier” move, giving postpaid customers a free share in the company, currently worth about $43. The company …


Major retailers are closing stores and struggling with the changing habits of shoppers who increasingly are choosing Deserted shopping malls nationwide are leading to fields of gray wastelands, a trend called “grayfields.”

The Unbearable Drabness of Dressing

The Casual Living Ubertrend is leading to a world where the accepted global uniform is t-shirt and jeans. Yet judging by the innovative vision of sci-fi wardrobe designers, fashion will eventually resemble Jessica Alba’s unitard Silver Surfer outfit.

HP Spectre 13

We love laptops so much that aficionados at NotebookReview have given it the oh-so-cute diminutive “lappy.” The innovative new HP Spectre 13 ($1,170) qualifies as our latest seductress with her beautiful lines and very sexy copper accents.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla announced its innovative Model 3 electric vehicle on March 31. According to Tesla, pre-orders have already reached 325,000, which is equivalent to $325 million in pre-order revenues and a potential $14 billion in eventual sales.

CES 2016 Innovations

The Consumer Electronics Show is an excellent beacon of tech’s future. Here’s what was trending sharply at this annual Las Vegas innovation extravaganza: Virtual reality, 4K Blu-ray, action cameras and, yes, believe it or not, turntables.

Ubercool Innovation Awards

Ten new innovations were added to the Ubercoool Top Innovations showcase section. Simultaneously, we are announcing the debut of the Ubercool Innovation award, which was created to honor innovative new award winners.




Keeping one’s data synchronized across platforms is a key goal of the cloud generation. Leading the charge is Evernote, an innovative computer application.


OpenTable has transformed the restaurant industry. Today, consumers simply fire up their OpenTable mobile phone app and transparently see what times are available and book a table.