Unexpected By Design Part 2: Steve Jobs and the iPod

Yesterday we showed you how differently the founders of Snapchat, Facebook, Youtube, and others envisioned their websites being used. Well here’s another example of what I’m beginning to call “the founder’s phenomina”.

When Steve Jobs first got onto the stage of Walt Mossberg’s first annual D Tech conference in 2003, he was fresh off of the success of the iPod and the redesigned iMac. Mossberg (who we interviewed here) asked him why the iPod couldn’t have Wifi, and why we couldn’t purchase music directly on it. Jobs went on to tell Mossberg that the iPod was meant as a satellite device to the all-mighty PC because PCs had big processors, and hard drives, and screens that made them ideal for buying music and vital for running larger programs. He went on to say that the iPod’s screen was too small to sell music on.

Only four years later Jobs released a device called the iPhone (ever heard of it?) with Wifi, and a built-in music player. Even some of the greatest anticipators of trends can’t predict how their products will evolve. He also had no plans to make a tablet (a device that he would predict 7 years later at the same conference would dominate the market). He said “We think the tablet’s going to fail”. He referred to the eReader concept as a niche market too exclusive to make money. Shall I keep going? “We [don’t] think we’ll be successful in the cell phone business because of the carriers so…we built software to sync your palm to your computer”. Remember palms? Look it up youngsters. Four years later Apple owned the cell phone market. “Watching videos on a tiny little screen is not that much fun”. Two years later Apple introduced the video ipod, with the same screen size. Check out the video for yourself.


Michael Sitver

Michael Sitver is a technology insider who has been blogging about technology since 2011. Along the way, he's interviewed founders of innovative startups, and executives from fortune 500 companies, and he's tried dozens or hundreds of gadgets. Michael has also contributed to works featured in Newsday, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the associated press. Michael also occasionally consults, and writes for Seeking Alpha and Yahoo News.

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