The Apple iPod Success Story — Business Strategy Lessons

Shah Mohammed
19 min readAug 7, 2021

The late 1990s saw the launch of several portable MP3 players as substitutes for Walkman and portable CD players. However, their sales were lukewarm. In 2001, Apple entered the digital music industry with the launch of the iPod. Critics commented that iPod would die down without a whimper. However, iPod changed the way people listened to music. It made it cool and fashionable to listen to music on the move. And it transformed the music industry itself.

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Why did iPod succeed? What lessons can we learn?


Lee Iacocca, former Ford Chairman, said that selling a product is about solving customer problems. If you do not understand the customer well, you cannot sell any product. You would be wasting time and losing credibility. Innovations happen when you try to solve a customer’s pain.

The customers are not interested in our product’s benefits but how it would solve their problem.

So, the first thing in building a business/brand/product is to find the customer’s problems/pains/needs.

How to understand the customers’ needs/pains/problems?


A product’s success primarily depends on how well a company/brand has understood the customers’ needs. To understand their needs, we need to observe prospective users in their natural environment, collect insights, and think from their perspectives.

We can go a step ahead — Rather than passively observing them, how about, we become customers of our proposed product? — Living like one of your customers is the best way to understand their needs.