Changing Industries, Setting New Standards
Imagine this … the Apple boardroom circa 2000, when Steve Jobs introduced the concept of the iPod…
To that point, the music industry hadn’t changed much (besides the physical format of the recordings — records, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs) for a century. Record labels signed bands, recorded, produced and promoted albums. People bought the albums in record stores; played them on record players (invented in 1877), Walkmans (1980), portable CD players (1984); and stored them in crates, on shelves, in basements.
The formula existed long enough that people stopped considering alternatives. This was just the way things were.
And then Apple launched iTunes in January of 2001. Shortly thereafter, Jobs proposed the iPod prototype.
The project was green-lit immediately, but he only had six months for development because they wanted to sell it during the upcoming holiday season. He pushed his team and they launched the first iPod — code named P-68 — in October.
Music seemingly turned digital overnight as people uploaded their CDs and shared their mp3s.
The music industry was forced to evolve.
To date Apple has sold more than 350 million iPods. Their annual revenue jumped from $5.4 billion in 2001 to $171 billion in 2013. Debate the pros and cons all you want — from shuttered record stores to fragmented record labels to global exposure for unknown, unsigned acts — there’s no arguing that the iPod changed the world of music forever.
That’s what happens when someone transcends the status quo. The iPod was a product we didn’t know we needed, and now that we have it we can’t imagine life without it. Seeing around corners is what leaders do, what innovators do.
Working daily with leaders who have this same sense of innovation and foresight is one of the great pleasures of my job. We look into the future together everyday. And the future is bright my friends!