October 23, 2001 : “A Thousand Songs In Your Pocket”
Around this time 22 years ago on October 23 2001, Steve Jobs promised to give people “A Thousand Songs In Their Pocket”. His timing couldn’t have been better because at the time, Apple was primarily known for its computers and was struggling financially.
Arriving eight months following the Macintosh version of iTunes, and lasting 20 years, iPods were discontinued last year (2022) after around 450 million iPods had been sold worldwide. Not bad !
Steve had a canny knack of spotting gaps in the market then filling them with game-changing devices which appear so blindingly obvious in hindsight. He’s been quoted as saying that the digital music players at the time were “big and clunky or small and useless” with user interfaces that were “unbelievably awful”.
So he did something about it, in secret. In fact, the project was so secret that employees working on it couldn’t tell their families about it.
Inspired by the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”, copywriter Vinnie Chieco proposed the name “iPod”. The phrase “Open the pod bay doors, HAL” from the film, along with the small, white ‘pods’ in the movie, were a reference to this film.
In the first month of 2007, Apple announced an unprecedented quarterly revenue of US$7.1 billion, with iPod sales accounting for almost 50% of that figure. Then, on April 9, 2007, the company reached a milestone by selling its one-hundred millionth iPod, securing its place as the most popular digital music player ever sold.
Some Business Lessons To Consider :
1 – Innovate by Addressing Pain Points: A primary reason for the iPod’s success was Steve Jobs’ ability to understand customer frustrations with existing products.
2 – Build Integrated Ecosystems: The iPod was a critical part of a larger ecosystem. The seamless integration with iTunes software and the iTunes Store made it incredibly easy for users to purchase, manage, and enjoy music.
3 – Joint-Venture With Strategic Partners. When Apple entered into a partnership with HP, it was a move to expand their market presence. At the time, Apple’s market share was predominantly within its loyal customer base, while HP had a broader reach in the PC market and strong relationships with big-box retailers. Apple was then able to tap into a wider demographic, extending its reach to consumers who might not have considered Apple products before.
Steve was brilliant at taking what was already out there and “re-thinking it” with incredible success, which can be modelled.
When will it be your turn to have your own “iPod moment” ?