As an Innovator, Steve Jobs Had an “Exquisite Sense of Market Timing”


Just over 8 years ago on January 9, 2007, the first iPhone was launched at MacWorld and the modern era of mobile computing was born.

Steve Jobs began that historical announcement saying, “Every once and a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything.” Beyond merely marketing hype, Jobs spoke that day as if Apple had been guided to its fateful destination. It turns out that if there had been some guiding muse, it was the “Safari pad”, the prototype tablet built by engineers to test Safari.

While the pad showed promise, it was Jobs’s keen market timing that knew it wasn’t ready for prime time.

At a recent Executive Program at Singularity University, Paul Saffo explains the inside story of how timing played a key role in Apple’s rollout in the video above.

As Saffo–who is the chair of Future Studies & Forecasting–relayed in his story, Steve Jobs understood technological trends. Even though what he wanted was a powerful computer tablet (the iPad) that the Safari pad aspired to be, he focused on building on what could be achieved–the iPod touch and the iPhone–until the technology for a touch-responsive tablet could catch up with the inspired design.

In other words, he worked with what had and captured the big vision in a little package.

Today, many entrepreneurs and executives look to the legacy Jobs left behind for insights into timing, product development, and market positioning. Although Jobs has become increasingly mythologized since his death, there’s no doubt that powerful lessons are to be gleaned from one of the most important product launches in history.

This video was recorded at the January 2015 Executive Program at Singularity University and was recently released on Singularity University’s new video portal, which posts weekly selections from SU’s world-class faculty and speakers. To stay on top of the latest videos, sign up for the SU Videos weekly newsletter.

[image credit: Matt Buchanan/Wikimedia]