Posts Tagged ‘Tim Cook’

Steve Jobs, Predictor of Industry Change


In The Washington Times’ article, “Steve Jobs: visionary revolutionary,” Steve Jobs is labeled as a visionary because he was able to look into the future and see what the next big thing would be.  After reading Christensen’s book, “Seeing what’s Next: Using Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change,” I feel as though I’ve been granted a behind the scenes look into his thought process.  Chapter 1 describes four unique situations where change is possible and innovation will likely succeed by way of disruptive technology.

1.   Undershot Customers – Current customers have a complex problem and the current product is not providing an acceptable answer.

2.   Non-consumers – People have a task that needs to be done, but currently do not have the money or skills needed to accomplish it.

3.   Overshot Customers – Current customers feel that products are far too complex and/or expensive, but have no choice but to purchase them anyways because there are no alternatives.

4.   Nonmarket Context – Government regulations have shifted the environment and altered industry motivation and/or ability.

After understanding the nature of these four situations, it appears as though Steve Jobs focused on both undershot customers and non-consumers in launching new products.  With the iPhone, Steve Jobs was targeting undershot customers.  He saw that the consumers were currently underwhelmed with their phones and that they were forced to carry around several devices in order to accomplish their tasks.

Music –> Pod or MP3 player

Internet Access –> Computer

Phone Calls –> Mobile Phone

Realizing that the market was filled with undershot customers; Steve Jobs recognized the opportunity for innovation and unveiled the iPhone.  The undershot consumers jumped at the opportunity to purchase the iPhone because although the price was high, it fulfilled their needs where other devices previously fell short.

In addition to focusing on undershot customers, it’s difficult to imagine that Steve Jobs did not have non-customers in mind when leading the development of iTunes.  At the time, the majority of customers were either purchasing CDs and burning them to computers or stealing music.  Many of those stealing music were doing so because there was no legal way to obtain music in a digital format.  Steve Jobs recognized that people were willing to pay a reasonable amount for digital music, but simply had no way of doing so because there was no product or service with that offering.  This sparked the opportunity for innovation, and Steve Jobs jumped on it with the release of iTunes.

ITunes gave the non-customers a service that could accomplish the task of legally downloading music.  Through the release of iTunes, Apple was able to convert these non-customers into customers by recognizing their unmet needs, and fulfilling them.

It is clear that Steve Jobs had a knack for recognizing the four situations where innovation will likely succeed.  Looking forward, will Tim Cook spot similar opportunities and continue driving Apple forward with innovative products and services?