Eating your own Lunch

Scott Francis
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Eat your own lunch… Before someone else does.

Great article “Someone is Coming to Eat You” – relating the story of the iPod Mini circa 2005:

One of my favorite Apple product announcements happened on September 7, 2005. In an Apple music event announcement, Steve Jobs got on stage, gave the usual state of the business update, and then he did something I’d never seen before. He killed a wildly successful product.

The author does an excellent job relating this story of how Apple killed the most popular MP3 player of its day.  By replacing it with the iPod Nano.  Not adding the Nano to the product line, but replacing the Mini entirely.

It is relevant to me as well.  Because the iPod Nano was my first MP3 player.  I was a little late to the party.  But the value proposition of the flash-based MP3 player was what put it over the top for me.

The other interesting side-effect was that this shift in product-line quickly made Apple the world’s largest purchaser of NAND flash memory.  Which led to a distinct advantage in designing and equipping iPhones a couple years later.  Remember when all the iPhone competitors were shipping with pathetically small 1GB or 2GB configurations with an option to buy an expansion card to get in the neighborhood of an iPhone (8GB)?  Those early component pricing advantages were critical for Apple.

The author points out something else- that the killing of the Mini reflects Apple’s new ability to not only design great products, but to out-execute their competition in shifting production from one great product to another nearly overnight.  This is the kind of execution agility any company would love to have, let alone a company Apple’s size.