When Apple Moves Fast

In October 1999, Steve Jobs announced that the future of the Mac was video.

In January 2001, Jobs laid out a new strategy: the Mac would be a digital hub, and their first focus would be music.

In 15 months, the entire strategy shifted, and the company along with it.

“I felt like a dope,” says Jobs, thinking back to summer 2000, when his fixation on perfecting video editing on the Mac distracted him from noticing that millions of kids were using computers and CD burners to make audio CDs and to download digital songs called MP3s from illegal online services like Napster. Yes, even Jobs, the technological visionary of his generation, occasionally gets caught looking in the wrong direction. “I thought we had missed it. We had to work hard to catch up.”

Eight months later came the launch of the iPod.

In October 2012, Jony Ive replaced Scott Forstall. In 7 months, 1 week, and 5 days iOS has undergone a seismic shift:

iOS 7 preview page on left (link); iOS 6 preview page on right (link)
iOS 7 preview page on left (link); iOS 6 preview page on right (link)

The question we should be asking is what this shift, and the urgency with which it was executed, portends.1

  1. Related: Apple, Samsung, and the Parable of the Model T [↩︎]