Companies today, facing an environment of great uncertainty, need to embrace the idea of challenging traditional industry assumptions. This perspective of defying conventional wisdom goes hand-in-hand with the process of Blue Ocean Strategy, which is a systematic approach to turning unconventional ideas into winning strategies. One of the most visible practitioners of unconventional wisdom is Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple, under whose leadership the newly-released, already sold out iPad is championing a new era in computing.
[Image via Techno Buzz.]Perhaps more important, this elegant little device comes loaded with Jobs's grandiose ambition and is yet another example of his willingness to defy conventional wisdom and bend the ethos of Silicon Valley to his own will. The Internet is supposed to be all about freedom and choice—yet here comes Steve Jobs with an Internet that is a completely closed system. Apple not only sells you the device, but also operates the only store on the planet that sells software for it. Such "walled gardens" were supposed to be a thing of the past, cracked open first by the freewheeling PC revolution and then demolished by the anything-goes-and-everything-is-free World Wide Web. Jobs figures he can get away with this radical lockdown because the products Apple makes are so good, outstripping the imaginations of even the most engaged consumer. Jobs argues that this tighter control allows Apple to create a more seamless user experience—your iTunes account stores your credit-card information, which makes it very, very easy to buy stuff. There's no friction. Thinking about an old song from high school? Go to iTunes, grab it, pay a buck, and listen. I do that all the time now on my iPhone, and I'll probably make bigger purchases—movies, books, TV series—for my iPad. In fact, a closed system may be the only way to deliver the kind of techno-Zen experience that Apple has become known for.
The closed system also lets Apple make more money, because it collects 30 percent of whatever customers spend on apps or content. Same goes for movies, music, and books. Instead of making a one-time sale, each iPad sold becomes a recurring revenue stream for Apple.