While I agree in some aspects... I have to disagree in others. For example, while MP3 players existed before the iPod, the market largely didn't: there were three main types of machines out there, big HD-based nomad-type players the size of paperbacks with gigs of storage, CD-MP3 walkmans, and small flash-based players with only 16 or 32mb of storage (only enough for a handful of songs). I only knew one person who actually owned an MP3 player before an iPod, and I was smack-dab in the middle of the target demographic at the time. The reason for this is that all the options had big flaws:
- The big Nomad-type players were heavy, fragile, had terrible interfaces, expensive, and could only run off battery for a little while. Even worse, they were all USB 1 based, which meant that transferring music was incredible tedious.
- The CD-MP3 devices could hold a lot of music and were cheapish, but they also had terrible interfaces, were as big as a discman, and went through batteries super quickly. They also required a whole additional step of burning off what you wanted onto CDs ahead of time.
- The little stylish flash players were neat, portable and had good battery life, but only holding 5 or 10 songs made them a complete joke.
I really think what Jobs' method was, was to look at a class of products and say "OK, here's what exists. Why do they all suck so much?" ...and in the process of answering that question, create a new device that gets right to the heart of the problem and addresses it instantly.