Sometimes you’ve got to do things a little different to catch people’s attention. I’m a sucker for innovative ways of doing the same old thing. Sometimes, even though the old way works, a new idea or a shift in perspective is needed to generate exciting results. It’s these fresh takes on the old that not only fire my passion for my industry, but ultimately cause disruptions in industries.
Take the iPod, for example. When it was first released, there were dozens of other MP3 players on the market. They were all pretty much the same: mechanical buttons, LCD screens, slim form-factor. Everyone had made a product that was the next logical step in digital music away from the portable CD player. Slim it down, get rid of the external music storage, make it more efficient. There wasn’t really much impressive about them, though, and finding MP3s legally was limited at best.
To do a common thing uncommonly well brings success.
– Henry J. Heinz
Apple didn’t introduce a new product. However, their take on the MP3 player is what set them apart. They used a dial instead of mechanical buttons. They gave the device a larger screen with more information. They made it hold more music. And, most importantly, they introduced the iTunes music marketplace, which had the best selection of legally downloadable music in one place. They changed an industry.
They aren’t the first, and they won’t be the last. Countless predecessors throughout time took an existing idea and put a twist on it that changed the product landscape forever. As you think of how this applies to you, don’t limit yourself to just products. David Gianatasio of AdWeek shares this great piece about a company who cut out the center of books in order to cut out the middleman when talent hunting. It’s innovation in the most unusual way.