In my book The End of Competitive Advantage, I point out that even extremely potent advantages are subject to erosion. Even when they were once hugely popular, transformative and much loved, like the Apple iPod music player. This device had the most extraordinary impact – it basically showed the door to Sony’s Walkman, made “record stores” obsolete, gave Apple access to our complete consumption experiences, right down to handing the company our credit card numbers and made the whole concept of buying 14 songs to get the one you really wanted laughable. I still love my iPod for working out and listening to podcasts.
I was saddened therefore to read a new piece in Quartz that herald’s the iPod’s slow decline. Sure enough, what it does has been, in may cases, replaced by smart phones and other devices capable of playing back content. The click wheel which seemed so revolutionary to many now seem clunky beside elegant touch-screen interfaces. And the need to hook it to a computer to load music and content can seem downright archaic to mobile nomads who are always on the go, or people who don’t even want to own music, but just want to listen to it (Spotify and Pandora, anyone?).
Even authors who write about declining advantages can be saddened by them!