Every now and then a disruptive process or technology comes along that changes the landscape. There have been a number of books written on this subject … Blindsided by Jim Harris is a book that talks about industries that have been changed and the effects on companies that didn’t see it coming; Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Chin and Renee Waumberg talks about a strategy for becoming that disruptive “player”, citing examples such as Cirque du Soleil and Second Cup.
Yesterday at MacWorld Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, unveiled the iPhone. This is a long awaited product from Apple, a continuation of their foray from a pure computer company to a consumer electronics company, and by all accounts it appears to be a product that hits the mark. The immediate impact was a negative effect on the share price at RIM, and any regular reader of this blog will know that I love my BlackBerry (I now have a Pearl … and love it, but that iPhone looks cool!). When the BlackBerry was first introduced it was a product that was quickly adopted in the market and since then, there have been many companies playing catch-up … just maybe Apple leap frogged them!
The revolution of Apple as a company has been a very interesting case study to watch, and Jobs has indeed been a masterful architect of that transition. For CEOs like me that “toil” in a commoditized market space, the redefinition of a market should always be a goal. Apple has always played in the PC world which has been a very commoditized market for a long time, but the Mac’s differentiators allowed it to retain a keen following. The addition of the iPod (did I mention I love my iPod too?) and iTunes (following the demise of Napster) helped to stabilise Apple as a company, and now I think the iPhone will continue that amazing story.
For the longest time there has been talk about “converging technologies” and the need for usable handheld devices that can multi-task. People did not want to have to carry a phone, a pager, an email tool, an MP3 player and a camera. That would require a lots of pockets or a back-pack and probably lead to back-pain! Many industry observers have commented that trying to have one device be good at everything is asking too much, but it looks like Apple’s penchant for “user friendly” devices might just have hit pay dirt.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out … but I’m excited when I see this kind of innovation. Gotta go back and revolutionize the staffing industry … later!