The iPod story is one of the most famous business successes of all time. But what was really new about it? The digital MP3 format had existed before, with MP3 players as well. Music stores on the internet? Old news! Yes, sure, the revolutionary, award-winning design was different and so was the click wheel, which made navigating through even the largest music collections a delight. Both of these were without question important elements of the success - but only 'just' elements.
At the end of the day, the iPod story is about reinventing a well-known, established product category, breathing life into a new idea and exploding the limitations of the 'old' idea - a Walkman, reinvented for the Internet age.
There was nothing so exceptional, spectacular or technologically revolutionary that a Sony manager couldn't have thought of it.
To be fair, in the beginning many were blind to the power of Apple's new idea. When Steve Jobs presented it to the public for the first time in 2001, he was greeted with sympathy, ridicule and derision. Many of them thought:
What makes this egomaniac think he's so important? The iPod is exactly like all other MP3 players, only with a bit more user-friendliness, more storage capacity and an innovative design.
Something was easily missed; even though the product and its technology closely resembled a large number of existing products even back then, what makes all the difference is breathing in that invisible and intangible new idea, with sufficient inherent strength to unleash a revolution.
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