July 5, 2019
Here’s a quick look at how Steve Jobs introduces a new product.
It’s 2001, and Steve is going to give the first public demo of iTunes.
Long before iTunes became a ‘toxic hellstew’, it was as a product that solved a simple problem, making your music digital.
I’ve broken down the 10 min presentation into four parts. At a high level, Steve has two goals.
“There’s a music revolution happening right now.”
Before streaming (and iPods) existed, people were listening to musics on cds. But they wanted to move music around and “burn custom playlists.”
This was a ‘digital revolution’. He uses a single statistic to drive this point home: “In 2000, 320m blank discs were sold.”
He then breaks down this new behavior into understandable use-cases
“You want to rip your audio cds onto your computer disk.”
“You can create playlists of your favorite songs.”
“You can listen to playlists on your computer, like when you’re working.”
“You can burn your playlists onto custom cds.”
“You can transfer your songs onto portable MP3 players.”
“Tune into digital radio.”
Later in this presentation he admits Apple is late to the party. Digital music apps existed. He quickly moves through a few screenshots of very complicated looking UI’s.
“I’ve talked to so many people using them, who don’t know about 3/4 of the features!”
He thinks the main problem is they are too complicated. This will become the point of difference for iTunes (it’s simple.)
He also mentions restrictions (paid-for features, no mp3 encoding, throttling burning speed).
So, before he introduces iTunes, he has explained what people want to do “rip music and create custom playlists” and he showed the main problem with competitors, they are too complicated.
First thing he does is show the UI. “It looks like this. Simple, clean, far more powerful.”
Remember these? These are the things that people want to do. In a few seconds he’s connected user needs to the features of iTunes.
Apple is famous for product demonstrations. What I found interesting is how fast he moves through the product. He hits all the core use-cases (ripping, playing, searching) and then he’s done. There’s a sprinkle of showmanship (playing music), but that’s it. And every example is grounded in a real-life problem, like trying to find a specific song.
Below, I’ve listed out the main things he does in the demo, and coded it with (UNDERSTAND) or (DO). Understand is explaining the system, Do is something a user might do with the software.
Part 1: Ripping “Love Shack”
Part 2: Drag and drop
Part 3: Browse
Part 4: Search
Not sure if that was the exact end of the demo, but you get the picture. I’ve put together far more complicated decks for far less exciting features than this. Lots to learn here!
As a side note, here’s an ad promoting iTunes.
Classic Apple advertising, distilled iTunes into a core message. “Your music.”