Throwing away the rulebook
"We're still playing catch-up.. [Apple] threw away the rulebook and reinvented it. We unfortunately don't have that luxury."
I'm assuming the luxury part is about maintaining an existing eco-system. In the case of Windows Mobile the underlying engine is good - its just the UI is outdated when compared to new entrants to the mobile market.
Its typical for journalists to use commentary and to sensationalise, so I'm not focussing on the article but rather the notion of throwing away the rulebook.
Stow Boyd has a nice article on design approach which roughly outlines:
The transition from a bunch of ideas, goals, or requirements (depending on how you view the start of the process) to a design.
The opportunity to become involved in designing things.
He cleverly points out some bad metaphors such as Design Is Driven By Requirements. It's not like 'requirements' exist in some concrete form. Requirements should inform and not define a product.
Getting the design pattern, as Einstein would put it, "as simple as possible and no simpler" is not a luxury. To keep current, relevant even, to your users I would suggest its mandatory.
Throwing away the rulebook should the first step on the path to innovation. Referring to the rule book for information when its not obvious or doesn't exist.
One such rulebook that's worth looking at is the "400 Project Rule List" for game design. There are many guidelines that help outside the game world:
My favourites are:
17 - Begin at the Middle
11 - Emphasize Exploration and Discovery
42 - No Bosses in Brainstorming Sessions
92 - Trim the Fat