by Mark W. Johnson, Clayton M. Christensen, and Henning Kagermann
In 2003, Apple introduced the iPod with the iTunes store, revolutionizing portable entertainment, creating a new market, and transforming the company. In just three years, the iPod/iTunes combination became a nearly $10 billion product, accounting for almost 50% of Apple’s revenue. Apple’s market capitalization catapulted from around $1 billion in early 2003 to over $150 billion by late 2007. This success story is well known; what’s less well known is that Apple was not the first to bring digital music players to market. A company called Diamond Multimedia introduced the Rio in 1998. Another firm, Best Data, introduced the Cabo 64 in 2000. Both products worked well and were portable and stylish. So why did the iPod, rather than the Rio or Cabo, succeed? Apple did something far smarter than take a good technology and wrap it in a snazzy design. It took a good technology and wrapped it in a great business model. Apple’s true innovation was to make downloading digital music easy and convenient. To do that, the company built a groundbreaking business model that combined hardware, software, and service. This approach worked like Gillette’s famous blades-and-razor model in reverse: Apple essentially gave away the “blades” (low-margin iTunes music) to lock in purchase of the “razor” (the high-margin iPod). That model defined value in a new way and provided game-changing convenience to the consumer. Business model innovations have reshaped entire industries and redistributed billions of dollars of value. Retail discounters such as Wal-Mart and Target, which entered the market with pioneering business models, now account for 75% of the total valuation of the retail sector. Low-cost U.S. airlines grew from a blip on the radar screen to 55% of the market value of all carriers. Fully 11 of the 27 companies born in the last quarter century that grew their way into the Fortune... [continues]
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