The Business Book

(Joyce) #1


The Apple logo has become a global
emblem of the modern age—an
indication of the extent to which
the organization has revolutionized
technology and product development.

The iTunes Music Store (now the
iTunes Store) redefined the music
industry in 2003. At the time, digital
music piracy was on the rise; record
labels were fighting against digital
distribution for fear of losing control
and further damaging already
declining revenues. Jobs exploited
the record executives’ nervousness
to his advantage, offering people a
way to purchase music legally but
easily and instantly.
Apple’s software changed the
music industry’s business model
forever. In addition to changing the
way we access and listen to music,
iTunes enabled people to buy single
tracks from albums. Artists no
longer needed to slave for months
on albums, but could release a
steady stream of singles instead.
Consumers no longer felt trapped
into album purchases and felt less
need to search for free, pirated
downloads in place of legal versions.

The iTunes Store and the iPod
system, quite simply, worked for
consumers, who had been baffled
by the many MP3 players and online
methods of finding music. Apple
simplified the process, and made
its solution aesthetically appealing
at the same time. By 2013, its
strategy had brought sales of around
400 million iPods and more than
25 billion iTunes Store downloads.

Continually game-changing
Such radical disruption, if achieved
only once, could be put down to
good luck, but true game changers
are those who persistently seek
to separate themselves from the
competition. Steve Jobs was not
content merely to have changed the
music industry: in 2007 he turned
his attention to the cell-phone
industry. Cell phones had been
getting smarter for a while, but the
iPhone was a giant leap forward.
Offering users access to a suite
of computer-like applications and,
in particular, seamless Internet
access, it was an instant hit. The
real breakthrough was the iPhone’s
touch-screen technology. Jobs


called the iPhone “a revolutionary
product,” claiming it was “five
years’ ahead of any other cell
phone.” His words were prophetic:
for some years after, the iPhone
remained the standard against
which all other cell phones
were assessed and defined.
Shortly before his death in 2011,
Jobs did it again—this time with
the iPad. Launched in April 2010,
to confusion and some cynicism,
the iPad came to (re)define the
industry. It extended access to
technology beyond its accepted
business, educational, and ❯❯

It’s kind of fun to do
the impossible.
Walt Disney
US entrepreneur (1901–1966)
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