“History didn’t happen in the past – it happened in the present *at that time*, with only the facts they knew and beliefs they held *at that time.* – my son’s 7th grade history teacher.
Apple’s best strategic decision ever (in my opinion) happened 9 years ago today, on October 16th, 2003.
That’s the day Apple decided to launch iTunes for Windows – the day it decided to break out of the closed Apple world. Before that, Apple programs only worked on Apple computers, and cool new Apple gadgets like the 2 year old iPod only connected to Macs, not PCs. But iTunes 4.1 was the start of iPods being used by Windows users, the other 95 percent or whatever the market share was at the time. Then iPods turned into iPhones. Then once people saw how well the iPhone and iTunes worked, they wanted their entire computing experience to work that way, and they bought their first Macintosh. And they’ve probably been using one ever since.
As Apple’s marketing team put it that day, “Hell Froze Over” and they built “The Best Windows App Ever” – if you ever visit my New York office you’ll see this poster on the wall.
It wasn’t an obvious big deal at the time. This article from day after it launched is a good example, a bit hopeful and guarded at the same time, finishing with “The program itself is still not perfect, but getting better all the time. The strategy it displays is very promising and I hope we’ll see Apple kicking some serious butt soon. I didn’t write that last sentence, did I?”
This was a huge gamble and I’m sure it was a contentious, almost religious argument internally at Apple. But I can’t think of a more important decision that set off a series of events that led to a lot of things, including a 5,480% increase in $AAPL since October 16, 2003.