Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It never ends with the product

As Steve Jobs gets ready to take another leave of absence from Apple, it's a good time to reflect on the remarkable success that the company has had since his return.

Since a moribund Apple bought NeXT computers in 1996 and reinstated Jobs as CEO, its success has been undeniable. From the iMac to the Macbook, the iPod, iPhone and iPad it's been home run after home run. And while people point to the products – their design and functionality – as the reason for the company's success, that's really not the case.

Apple really started to take off when it discovered the power of the ecosystem. iTunes and their App store are responsible for billions of dollars of profit for the company and more importantly taking the device from a nice to have periphery in someone's life to an extension of one's personality that you can't live without.

By focusing on the entire experience instead of the device, Apple sold its Mp3 player for a significant multiplier over the competition. The same is true for the iPhone and iPad, but the competition is tougher now.

Blackberry and Android have adopted this model and are coming on strong. Everyone is learning that it's not just enough to create a device that can do things. It's critical to develop a whole system that makes it easy to do things.

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