In 1988, Peter Gabriel was ahead of his time and not just musically. Asked about music piracy in Asia and what he would do about it, Gabriel explained that he monitored where it took place and if the volumes were big enough, would organise a tour to monetise the opportunity.
A similar question, directed at BoingBoing co-editor Cory Doctorow at The Economist Big Rethink conference, about ebooks revealed that he has always given them away. Whilst Cory claimed that this was because "the guy sticking a lemon up his nose on YouTube" was only ever an Alt-Tab away, he made a more serious comment that the main reason people didn't buy his books was that they had never heard of him. It is arguable that with the rapid development of the iPad and other tablet-style devices, soon that statement may not stand up to scrutiny.
What is driving innovation here is economics and according to Julie Meyer of Ariadne Capital, it is specifically "Ecosystem Economics." With the launch of iTunes and the iPod, Apple succeeded to change the business model by creating a collaborative infrastructure and ecosystem required to make their products a success. They are having similar success with the iPhone and iPad.
Conversely, as Robin Bew of the Economist observed, a lack of consideration for the ecosystem caused the Tata Nano car problems despite the positive economics of the individual product. "Even poor consumers are demanding" commented Vijay Vaitheeswaran the conference chair, and perhaps a more holistic, service design approach would have avoided the issues that the product has encountered.
This notion of economically driven innovation was apparent throughout the conference and it was encouraging to hear was that there would be a green upside. According to Bew, the past ten years have been responsible for half of the price increases the world's commodities have experienced over the last 150 years. This economic situation will drive governments to encourage innovation in environmentally friendly alternatives in the same way necessity drives innovation in businesses and entrepreneurs.