f you are looking towards fresh ideas for your business it can be great to look at what market challenges and successes other businesses are having.

By extrapolating their underlying concepts for success you may be able to apply them to your business.

For example: Apple’s keys to success

Let’s consider the success Apple has achieved with its iPod. The iPod was far from the first portable MP3 music player yet it still has been able to achieve the market dominance it currently enjoys.

Underlying success concepts we can all learn from Apple and apply in our businesses include:

1. Diversify

Be prepared to move away from historical core business.

  • Apple went from computers to portable music players. The result? In 2005, combined iPod and iTunes sales accounted for 39% of total Apple revenue. Apple also moved to Intel chips which at the time were synonymous with PCs.
2. Keep innovating to respond to market needs and challenges.

Stay on your toes – you have to be creative!

  • Apple is constantly bringing out new versions of the iPod and supporting services such as Apps.
3. Expand market reach.
  • The iPod and iTunes store gave access to both Apple and PC users.
4. Be desired by the market

‘Create cool’ to drive early users and others will follow.

  • iPod ‘cool’ is exemplified by its trademark white earphones.
5. Think in terms of innovation ecosystems rather than stand alone products/services.
  • Accessories (Apple reported nearly $900 million in sales of iPod-related services and accessories in 2005)
  • iTunes store (when the iTunes store came online iPod sales went through the roof. See chart below.)
    The above chart shows how the iPod and iTunes store work together to form an ‘ecosystem’. iTunes was launched for Mac users in April 2003 and later for PC users in October 2003. Look at the correlation between iPod sales and music downloads! It begs the question, which now drives which? The chicken or the egg?
6. Think outside the marketing square.
  • The iTunes store initially acted as a loss leader for a profit-driving durable iPod.
  • “The dirty little secret of all this is there’s no way to make money on these stores”, Steve Jobs, Apple CEO said.
    • Of the US 99 cents that Apple collected per track:
    • 65 cents went to the music label.
    • 22 cents went toward the cost of credit card processing.
    • 12 cents revenue was left for Apple from which Apple had to pay for its direct and indirect costs.
  • See the similarity, for example, to cheap printers needing constant consumables? Or your electric toothbrush needing regular new heads?
7. Partners can come in all shapes and sizes.

If you scratch their back they will scratch yours.

  • Partner with other businesses and make more money! Apple isn’t relying only on products and services it produces to make money. It is allowing millions of other businesses/individuals to partner with them through music downloads and more recently the Apps store.
8. Produce quality products.
  • The iPod exemplifies cutting edge engineering with sleek design and appealing functionality as embodied in its original “click wheel” control and now touch screen interfaces.
9. Deliver quality services and support.
  • Apple Genius bars offer a no cost, walk in service for all Apple products.

The proof is in the pudding

Don’t believe me that these are success concepts? If not, does the following convince you:

Apple on 21 July 2009 said its “profit jumped 15 per cent in the most recent quarter despite the recession”. Click to read more.


Yoffie D.B. & Slind M., May 30 2007, ‘Apple Computer 2006′, Harvard Business School Publishing.