If you think about the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, and even iTunes, these are all products in categories that already existed. The iPad, for example, was a tablet, and there wasn’t anything new about bringing a tablet computer to the market. So what set it apart from all the others? As with all his other products, Steve kept it in development until all the technology was available to make it a great product, and his teams had come up with design solutions and user interface solutions that met his extraordinarily high standards. When the iPod was introduced, it set the new standard for all MP3 players.
That’s what Steve did with each new addition to the lineup: He led his teams to create a product that he himself wanted to use. It’s as if at each step he was asking himself, “What is still missing to make this a product that I want to own and use?” He would not say, “Okay, it’s ready to be introduced,” until it met his own personal standard. And that’s why, each time, Steve’s next new product set the standard for the category: he was his own ultimate consumer.
After Apple introduced the iPod, a Silicon Valley company known mostly for its storage products, SanDisk, came out with an MP3 player. Why? The SanDisk CEO, when asked some time later, gave an answer along the lines of, “Well, we got 3 percent market share.”
Instead of asking, “How can we give buyers a great mobile music player?” or “What’s our vision for creating a product that breaks new ground?” ...