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Leading Apple With Steve Jobs: Management Lessons From a Controversial Genius by Jay Elliot

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Going against the Grain

With Apple, the real revolution began with iTunes, which brought a total rewriting of the rules of the music industry. The new era gave Apple an unprecedented degree of control in setting policy, pricing, and how the profits would be divided up. The record companies begrudgingly acquiesced to Steve’s demands.

Steve’s success in the face of the entrenched music industry is a lesson for all of us: never be afraid to go against the grain. When Apple launched the iPod, downloading music to a digital platform was considered dead. Sure, there was plenty of that going on, but it was illegal, and the artists and music companies were not seeing any income from it. The music industry was reeling from the pirated music, until Steve came up with his against-the-grain solution.

He went against the grain with the iPad, as well. The tablet market was dead in the water, with PC manufacturers scrambling to find a solution that would draw purchasers. Steve introduced a product very significantly more expensive than other tablets—and you know what happened. The iPad redefined the category. As of this writing, in early 2012, the product has been on the market for less than a year and has sold some 25 million units.

Now it’s becoming clear that the iPad is putting the desktop PC market at risk. The iPad is being accepted as a tool by IT departments, opening a totally new market opportunity for Apple.

My mind turns back to several years ago when I would attend client meetings ...

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