Steve Blank offers part 2 of his must read – How the iPhone Got Tail Fins. Again, I love this case (of GM) as it highlights how an industry (both a durable good and a consumer good) can blow-up, mature, and then challenge participants to continue to find growth. From Steve Blank:
For fifty years, until the Japanese imports of the 1970’s, Americans talked about the brand and model year of your car – was it a ’58 Chevy, ’65 Mustang, or 58 Eldorado? Each had its particular cachet, status and admirers. People had heated arguments about who made the best brand.
The car had become part of your personal identity while it became a symbol of 20th Century America.
After Sloan took over General Motors its share of U.S cars sold skyrocketed from 12 per cent in 1920, until it passed Ford in 1930, and when Sloan retired as GM’s CEO in 1956 half the cars sold in the U.S. were made by GM. It would keep that 50% share for another 10 years. (Today GM’s share of cars total sold in the U.S. has declined to 19%.)
How the iPhone Got Tail Fins
Over the last five years Apple has adopted the GM playbook from the 1920′s – take a product, which originally solved a problem – cheap communication – and turn it into a need.
In doing so Apple did to Nokia and RIM what General Motors did to Ford. In both cases, innovation in marketing completely negated these firms’ strengths in reducing costs. The iPhone transformed the cell phone from a device for cheap communication into a touchstone about the user’s image. Just like cars in the 20th century, the iPhone connected with its customers emotionally and viscerally as it became a symbol of who you are.
Again, the piece is full of insights and also, beautiful old graphics and media (old tv commercials).
Nothing super new here, but a well put together lessons on industries, marketing, and customer development.