Companies should not set their strategy based on accepted industry standards and limitations. Instead, they should continuously think as if they started their business anew. Because, as a recent story on the creation of Apple’s iPhone reveals, if your company isn’t prepared to kill its own products, then the competition surely will be.
Put it all together and you get a remarkable story about a device that, under the normal rules of business, should not have been invented. Given the popularity of the iPod and its centrality to Apple’s bottom line, Apple should have been the last company on the planet to try to build something whose explicit purpose was to kill music players. Yet Apple’s inner circle knew that one day, a phone maker would solve the interface problem, creating a universal device that could make calls, play music and videos, and do everything else, too—a device that would eat the iPod’s lunch. Apple’s only chance at staving off that future was to invent the iPod killer itself. More than this simple business calculation, though, Apple’s brass saw the phone as an opportunity for real innovation. “We wanted to build a phone for ourselves,” Scott Forstall, who heads the team that built the phone’s operating system, said at the trial. “We wanted to build a phone that we loved.”
[Image via Yasunobu Ikeda.]