In January 2007, at the annual Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Steve Jobs announced that “Apple Computer” was a thing of the past. Henceforth, the company would simply be known as “Apple, Inc.” Why? Here’s how he put it: “The Mac, iPod, Apple TV, and iPhone. Only one of those is a computer. So we’re changing the name.”72 If Apple had continued to think of itself solely as a computer company, it would never have considered stretching into seemingly “out of scope” domains like consumer electronics, online digital media distribution, mobile telephony, home entertainment, downloadable software apps, consumer retail stores, and so forth. But the ability to define Apple based on its competencies (creating user joy through cool, hyper-friendly design) and its assets (cutting-edge technologies and a cult-status brand), rather than on its “core business,” allowed the company to expand into wider arenas and build enormous new sources of profit.
Pixar’s original business was making computer hardware and software for 3D rendering, but it turned out the company was also uniquely skilled at using its own technology to make computer-animated films. If Pixar had not freed itself from a narrow self-conception based on its legacy business, it would never have been able to leverage its true core competency and transform itself into an animation studio that would revolutionize the movie industry.