Well, just 20 minutes ago I was using my "TV" and it's nice unix shell to develop a cross-platform multiplayer game. And you could say it's usability and experience over configuration, not eye-candy (remember Aero Glass? KDE Plasma?), althought nice-looking interfaces can help with both.
No, he didn't do all this himself, but he was captaining the ship. Has Sergey Brin changed the way people use the internet?
You could just as easily alta-vista, or yahoo that because people used those search engines originally, and they existed way before Google did.
Google however turned a better product and has therefore captured the lion's share of the market. But they Google search engine is pretty much a copy in functionality of previous ones that came before.
Of course Google have brought other things to the internet (maps comes to mind), but the search engine didn't change how people used the internet - we were searching long before Google.
The same exact accusations could be (and have been) leveled at Apple. The fact of the matter is that Apple is a very, very good marketing company; as for revolutionary technology and being innovators, not so much.
Apple's innovations are myriad and subtle, particularly on the software side. Almost all of these things have been copied by the various Linux environments:
- Sub-second reconnection to wifi when resuming from sleep, using past remembered networks and IPs
- Bonjour zero-configuration service discovery for printers, network speakers, etc.
- Exposé window management and the GPU-accelerated desktop in general, not to mention just-in-time-compiled GPU accelerated image and video manipulation with CoreImage / CoreVideo.
- Spotlight indexed desktop search that's actually usable for real world filetypes
- Quicklook instant previews, not to mention native PDF support not involving Adobe Reader
- A mail program that autoconfigures based on just the email address, just by trying the obvious options
Add in the fact that Apple is still the only company to have multi-touch work properly on a desktop, that their hardware has been dominating geek conferences for years because of its travel-friendlyness, and there is plenty of innovation to go around.
While I started this comment thread, I do think Apple has done a lot of good putting quality back into hardware in many regards. It really pains me that I'm going to have them to thank for getting us out of the low PPI dark ages, but it is almost exclusively due to their market pressure for high pixel displays that will finally end the last decade of pixelated nonsense.