(Pocket-lint) - It dawned on me as I was furiously typing away last night at the Apple "Beat goes on" event in London that I'd seen everything before.
No I'm not talking about the numerous leaks, that's a discussion for another time, but the fact that Apple doesn't break boundaries any more, but merely takes products that are already available on the market and makes them that little bit better.
An MP3 player with wireless connectivity? Done by Archos in June. An MP3 player with touchscreen? Done by Samsung last year. What about a small MP3 player with large screen? Done by Creative last month. How about a store that you can buy stuff from on the move with that Wi-Fi? Oh no wait, done by Archos as well.
And it's not just the new iPods that you get a sense of deja vu from. Apple's system restore program called Time Machine in the yet to be released Leopard operating system works in a very similar way to Microsoft Windows XP System Restore launched 4 years ago. On the iPhone front there is the similarity to the HTC Touch, and the LG Prada, again both out before the new phone in the UK and the US.
And that's before we get started on naming. Nano used to be used by Creative to describe its tiny MP3 player range, while the newly launch iPod touch is already being used HTC with its HTC Touch.
Move on to software and it's the same story, Adobe's Photoshop Album came first, so did Microsoft's Windows Media Player and of course Windows 3.11 over the Mac OS.
But, and here is the big but, have Apple merely copied, or innovated?
In virtually every case Apple's designers and engineers do a very good job of taking something that's been done before and reinventing it.
I'm typing this on my MacBook Pro, so I must believe in the company's ethos, otherwise I would be here on a PC using Windows Vista (which I do of course use thanks to dual boot).
But it does surprise me that I haven't seen more occasions where companies, called "foul" and launched lawsuits against the Cupertino-based company. When I questioned a spokesperson for HTC what they planned to do about the use of the touch name all I got was:
"HTC is extremely proud of the HTC Touch and its success since it launched 3 months ago. It has not only changed the way people interact with their phone but has redefined what touch is on a consumer device. With that said, we have no official comment today on non-HTC products and are focusing our attention on HTC's 10th anniversary celebrations in Taiwan."
Likewise Creative never seemed that bothered in 2005 either when Apple stole the show when it renamed its iPod mini to the iPod nano. I know I would be if someone started using Pocket-lint to set up a similar site offering technology news and reviews.
It's only been a day, but if I say "touch" within the gadget arena do you think of HTC or iPod?
So as to the question do they copy or innovate? I think Apple does both. Not in a dodgy cheap Chinese way where you can get perfect copies or the latest Prada bag, but in the way that it copies the idea and then innovates a better use for it, most of the time making improvements on the way.
It's that Apple shine that somehow makes people excited and forget what they've seen before.