Steve Jobs’ Missed OpportunityJanuary 26, 2013 6:38 am
Steve Jobs was great at envisioning the future without asking the customer what he needs – but probably was not very good at giving what the customer needs. In many cases, those were multi-billion dollar opportunities. Here is one example.
AllThingsD has a great collection of Steve Jobs interviews – it is great fun to watch (particularly the older ones), and some statements definitely make you laugh – like Steve Jobs mentioning that Apple has 5 billion dollars cash, and that the iTunes store had sold some 85 million songs with a ‘shot’ at 100 million. There are hundreds of interesting points we spotted in those interviews – Steve Jobs’ missing out on a clear problem and a potential multi-billion opportunity is one of those.
Steve Jobs clearly saw the problem that people had with sharing videos – however, watching the interviews, it is clear that he was blindsided by his belief that ‘bandwidth will not grow fast enough to handle the rate of growth of data and content’ – he thought that the solution was clearly on the client side – so he had this solution of planting DVD burners as fast as he can on the computers that Apple sold. In fact, he states clearly in the interview, that for video particularly, this idea that the content can sit in the cloud was probably far fetched, given the bandwidth concerns.
Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim saw the same problem, and the development of Flash technology, and were able to put two and two together, and the rest is history.
In hindsight, Steve Jobs seems to have missed two things: the emerging video clip culture (in the interview he mentions that he might want to listen to his favorite songs maybe 5000 times, but would only watch his favorite movie maybe five times). He definitely missed the video clip phenomenon.
The second thing he missed, was the tolerance level of people when it comes to video quality. He mentions that for the first time in his life, with MP3s, he saw that people settled for ‘lower quality’, in exchange for convenience in transferring content. He says that would never happen with video.
We might have had an Apple cloud offering in some shape. But for once, Steve Jobs was not the smartest guy in the room.