Invention vs Innovation

The topic of invention and innovation is an interesting one. The two words are tossed around these days liberally for the sake of, well, sounding innovative. I think to give an example of innovation one must first define what the two words means to him/her.

For me, the two words stand for very different things. To call something an invention, it must have a sense of newness, it should enable people to do something completely new, something they weren't able to before.

A good example of this would be the Wright brothers' first flying machines, or Microsoft's multi touch technology that was first demo'd back in the early 2000s.

Innovation on the other hand, is completely different. I believe its more about the practical. How useful is the invention when its put to practice? If its not that useful or practical, it would forever stay as an invention. But the turning point of an invention becoming an innovation would be mass adoption. For example, flying machines were an invention, until companies like Boeing and Airbus popularized the invention for air travel. Microsoft's multi touch technology stayed an invention, until Steve Jobs adopted the invention with the first Apple iPhone.

Planes that enabled air travel, multi touch devices that put the world at our fingertips, these what I consider as innovative, as they took many previous inventions and gave them practical purposes. Purposes that made people's lives easier, and more efficient.

Taking the examples further, internet could be considered as an invention. It was a brand new way for information and data to be transferred through what seems like thin air. However, it was innovative internet companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook that made our daily lives better and easier by utilizing such invention.