Under Steve Jobs, Apple became more than a computer company.
It became more than a technology company.
It became more than an entertainment company.
More than a design company.
You name it.
Steve Jobs took Apple wherever he wanted to take it.
And sometimes the category didn’t even exist.
He didn’t need anyone to advise him where ‘line-extensions’ made sense.
He didn’t do the conventional thing.
He didn’t look to see what he could do with the computer.
He looked to see what that technology could mean to people.
In 2001, Steve Jobs took the basic idea of a hard drive and turned it into the iPod.
He said “Just think of it: 1,000 tunes in your pocket.”
And he built an entire product category.
By 2007, Apple had sold a hundred million iPods.
That year they turned over $7 billion revenue.
And half of that had come from the iPod.
But that success was exactly what worried Steve Jobs.
Several years before, he saw that iPod made Apple vulnerable.
What worried him wasn’t other competitors.
There weren’t any.
What worried him were camera phones.
Jobs knew, if phone manufacturers could do build-in cameras, they could build-in music players.
People would always carry phones in their pocket.
If they had music on a phone, they wouldn’t need iPods.
In a flash, Jobs saw something no other marketer would have seen.
He could come at that device from the other side.
And he realised Apple must get into the phone business.
Except for Apple, it would be the ‘everything you’ll ever need in your pocket’ business.
But Jobs didn’t want an ordinary, ugly phone like everyone else.
He wanted a beautiful, minimalist phone.
How could he do it?
Well for several years, he had a team working on making a tablet computer.
Beautiful slim, minimalist, with no keyboard.
The keyboard would only appear on screen.
The problem with all such devices was they needed a hand held stylus.
Jobs always held up his finger and said, “No, this is the stylus.”
And the tablet team eventually made a touch sensitive screen that worked with the human finger.
So, when Steve Jobs decided Apple had to make a phone, he told them “Stop working on the tablet, bring that technology to the phone.”
Which enabled Apple to bring out a phone that blew everyone away.
Overnight the iPhone was instantly the pinnacle of all mobile phones.
Check this.
Although the iPhone accounts for 4% of all mobile phone sales worldwide by volume, it accounts for 50% of all mobile phone sales worldwide by profit.
In 2011, the iPhone became the largest selling phone in the world by revenue, surpassing Nokia.
After the launch, the touch-screen team went back to working on the tablet.
And they launched the iPad in 2010.
Conventional wisdom said it just looked like a big iPhone.
No one realised the iPad had actually been developed first.
In 2011, Apple sales were $9.5 billion, made up a follows:
5 million computers.
15 million iPads.
37 million iPhones.

Sales would have looked very different if Steve Jobs hadn’t been worried at the point of greatest success.

  • Grilla Login

    No.2 et al have 2 burn the gas 2 become No.1. 
    No.1 has 2 burn the gas 2 stay @ No.1.

    Dave, @ which point exactly do we get 2 take our tootsies off the gas?

    • Dave Trott

      You know the answer Grilla.

  • tim masters

    And all done by following his gut feeling. No panel-testing. No focus groups. Just instinct.
    Quite remarkable really.

  • Peter Etheridge

    Interesting blog Dave – as almost all of yours are. However, I am getting a bit tired of the Steve Jobs deification. Jobs didn’t come up with the idea of using a hard drive to create a portable MP3 player – Compaq released one 3 years before the iPod.

    Similarly, I’m pretty sure the iPhone wasn’t the first finger-touch phone (although I’m too lazy to Google what was!). I think Jobs’ genius wasn’t as an inventor. It was perhaps more as a pioneer and evangelist – someone who was really quick to realise the potential of technology and use it in expertly designed and brilliantly marketed products.

    Maybe I’m just being a contrary bastard – a trait which led me to make the epicly stupid decision to buy a Creative Zen about ten years ago, when all of my friends were getting iPods. Needless to say, I now have an iPhone and iPod, but it still just irritates me a bit that people believe there’d be no such thing as a smatphone or mp3 player had Steve Jobs not existed. There would. They’d just be a bit rubbish.

  • Dave Trott
    • Peter Etheridge

      I did like that one better thanks Dave. Although it brought back painful memories of my conspicuously not-white headphones on my stupid Zen MP3 player!

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