The Uncreative Business Practice of Creative Labs

In a world of currency fluctuations, import tariffs, research and development costs and many other industrial factors, it is becoming increasingly difficult to make a business successful. Many companies are looking for ways of cutting costs in order to be competitive in international markets; some methods may be totally legitimate, others highly questionable.How can a company survive in this competitive world? Well, there is a way …One can visit a supermarket; fill the shopping trolley with quality goods then pass by the check-out without paying. Using this method, and having on hand a friendly chef it is possible to destroy the business of any small local restaurant. This may seem drastic but it happens every day in the competitive field of consumer electronics.It seems that Creative Labs, a company based in a tax haven country, Singapore, is using a non-creative method for gaining an unfair advantage over its competitors: copying other people’s patents.One of the most popular home electronics appliances around these days is the MP3 player, for instance Apple sold 14 million iPod players in the fourth quarter alone of 2005. A huge leap from 4.5 million in the same period of 2004. MP3 players show up everywhere; school kid’s use them as do adults, some models are incorporated in cell phones, cameras and even sunglasses. Many of the higher priced products, such portable audio and video devices (PAVs) now come with small screens able to show MPEG videos as well as reproduce audio. Well, behind these massively popular products, there lies relative patent portfolios that cover these technologies.Hundreds of producers of MP3 players and PAV devices have taken licenses for such technologies. They then follow their usual business channels in order to bring their products to the market. Many of these companies are renowned names, such as Apple Computer, LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung and hundreds of others. In today’s age of technology, what can the future be for a company that doesn’t respect intellectual property?Creative Labs knows the answer to that question.Creative has been accused of patent infringement by a series of patent holders, from among which Compression Labs, Lucent Technologies, MPEG LA, Dynacore Holdings and Advanced Audio Devices. Well, Creative may not be so creative in their business approach, but they are certainly very creative in their methodologies for avoiding royalty payments. In fact, in Creative’s 2005 Annual Report they even state that they have valid defences against any claims asserted against them. They then go on to say that even if any claimant should win their suit or claim against them they don’t expect there to be any adverse effects on its financial position or operations.MPEG LA alone manages more than 100 essential patent families. Are we to assume that Creative considers them all invalid and if they are valid then no royalties will exchange hands?Another example …Bells Labs, the R&D division of Lucent Technologies, has generated more than 31,000 patents since 1925 and has played a pivotal role in inventing or perfecting key communications technologies. Scientists from Lucent/Bell Labs have received six Nobel Prizes in Physics, nine U.S. National Medals of Science and eight U.S. National Medals of Technology.From Creative’s Annual Report it seems clear that the MPEG LA and Lucent patent portfolios are worth little more than the paper they are printed on.Doesn’t the supermarket metaphor used above spring to mind?Perhaps Creative should reconsider their statements concerning the fact that no adverse effects will occur to its financial position or operations.
What happens when criminal seizures of it’s products occur and the products are physically removed from the stores, or when a court injunction forbids them from selling their products?According to an Italian online journal, Hardware Upgrade, a David and Goliath style battle is currently underway between a small European company called Sisvel, which has the exclusive rights to license a number of MP3 patents, and Creative Labs. Court injunctions, seizures and messy legal battles are apparently underway across Europe. Creative is facing similar such battles in the USA with a subsidiary of Sisvel called Audio MPEG. It is interesting to note that Creative, through the sale of its MP3 players plans to topple Apple’s market domination in this field – it certainly has an advantage over Apple: it pays nobody. Nonetheless, Standard & Poor’s Equity Research analysts have downgraded shares Creative to “sell” from “hold” citing increased competition from Apple Computer in the MP3 player market. Maybe this goes towards explaining why Creative’s stock has nosedived almost 50% in the recent 52 week period!Creative’s continual strategy of not recognising intellectual property rights could lead to very serious results. The courts don’t hold much esteem for offenders of intellectual property when found guilty. For instance, The maker of the BlackBerry handheld devices (RIM) as part of a court settlement, agreed to pay US$450 million in exchange for NTP granting the right to continue its BlackBerry-related wireless business without further interference from NTP or its patents. A different field of technology, but it stresses a point.In cases such as these, when a rapid agreement isn’t reached litigation often leads to stock prices dropping like a rock, good faith being literally destroyed and shop keepers becoming dubious whether to stock goods or not for fear of seizure.In fact, as mentioned above, over the last year Creative’s stock value (CREAF – Nasdaq) has lost almost half it’s value. Will it lose even more? I wonder if holding on to Creative stock is a good idea for the future?

How to Become More Creative and Achieve Greater Success In Your Business Or Professional Career

Creativity and the ability to think creatively is the secret of success in whatever you attempt in life. If your professional career or the business you run has not been as successful as you would like it to be, the reason is probably because you’re not as creative as your competitors. Life is competitive: fiercely competitive. The difference between becoming a “winner” and an “also ran” depends, to a very large extent, on your ability to use your creative imagination.WHY ARE SOME PEOPLE CONSISTENT WINNERS IN EVERYTHING THEY ATTEMPT, WHILE OTHERS STRUGGLE TO REACH THEIR GOALS?If you examine the lives of people who have made their mark in life, you’ll discover that, although hard work and perseverance are important qualities, the critical factor in their success has been their ability to think creatively.Successful people use their creative imagination to find original and innovative solutions to problems. Where others see obstacles they visualize opportunities. They are able to change negative aspects of their lives into worthwhile achievements and are successful in whatever field in which they are involved. They enjoy the financial rewards that always accompany success because they have discovered how to take make use of an important faculty called “creative imagination”.WHAT IS CREATIVE IMAGINATION?Creative imagination is a mental faculty everyone possesses, but few know how to use effectively. It enables you to form images not present to your senses. It is the ability to create images in your mind and visualize situations or conditions you have never actually experienced.Creative imagination is an essential factor in success. Creative imagination allows you to formulate resourceful, ingenious, innovative solutions to problems and take advantage of opportunities others are unable to recognize.It makes no difference whether you are involved in business or provide a professional service. Your success depends on the extent to which you make use of your creative imagination and provide a product or service that is distinctly different to that of your competitors.Not only is creative thinking of vital importance in all forms of artistic expression, it is equally important in the world of business.In order to be successful in the highly competitive world of business and stand out from the crowd, it is essential to think creatively; develop new products; make use of new ideas and use fresh, new marketing strategies.Creative thinking is a priceless gift. It is a life-skill that will help you achieve success in virtually every field. But it is a life skill you cannot allow to remain dormant. In order to think creatively and come up with original new ideas, it is necessary to make regular use of your imagination. You have to give your imagination a regular “work-out”.In the same way as a high-performance engine requires regular use and constant fine-tuning to remain at its peak, your ability to think creatively depends on the extent to which you make use of your imagination.In order for athletes to improve their performances and compete more successfully, they are encouraged by trainers to make use of a training program that involves special exercises. After regular use of these exercises they experience a dramatic improvement in their performance.There are certain, special mental exercises you can use to your re-vitalize your imagination. Use these exercises regularly. You’ll find the improvement in your ability to think creatively will be just as dramatic – and so will the improvement in your business or professional career!

Creativity and Innovation – They’re Not the Same

The terms “creativity” and “innovation” are often confused. There are those who think developing innovative things requires that one be creative – or that in the absence of “innovative thinking” there can be no creativity. It is easy to see how both points of view might seem to make sense. Unfortunately neither really helps clarify the difference (or the relationship) between these two important concepts.To begin with, “creativity” and “innovation” are not synonymous; there is a clear and important distinction between them. It is especially critical for businesses to understand this distinction before attempting to institute a new organization-wide innovation imitative.Before discussing this distinction, however, it is important to note that creativity is a mental ability anyone is capable of, not just the artists among us. Most people seem to believe that being creative implies possessing some unique talent – painting, sculpting, writing, composing or performing music. Creativity is much more than winning Mother Nature’s genetic lottery for artistic ability. Creative potential exists in all of us.”Creativity” is most often defined as the mental ability to conceptualize (imagine) new, unusual or unique ideas, to see the new connection between seemingly random or unrelated things.Compare that to “innovation,” defined as a process that transforms such visionary ideas into practical (a.k.a. commercial) products, services or processes that deliver greater value. The result of such a transformation can be incremental, evolutionary or radical in its impact on the status quo. In other words, it can represent a natural step forward in a concept’s development, a leap to the next generation of that concept, or a completely new and different way of doing something altogether.If we use Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple and his company as an example, we could say that Steve Jobs is creative because he has the forward-thinking ability to imagine new ideas for products, and also to see new connections between different things (such as combining an iPod, the iTunes store, an Internet browser, a camera, a GPS, and a cell phone to create the iPhone).Apple the company is innovative in the manner in which they interpret and execute those forward-thinking ideas to create inspired, highly desirable products of value. The company’s innovation-driven culture continuously strives to elevate the aesthetics, functionality and simplicity of their product design to museum quality levels.Why is this distinction between creativity and innovation important?Because it is impossible to develop a truly innovative organization if creativity is ignored or stifled. And likewise, without effective processes in place to transform creative ideas into practical, real world, value added application, creativity is of now commercial value whatsoever.When you truly understand the difference between creativity and innovation, you can start your process for success – by freeing and inspiring the creative ability lying dormant in your organization.When creativity is liberated, innovation flows.