Better Than New

Apple’s History: A Product Strategy Roadmap by morepete
July 6, 2007, 8:43 am
Filed under: Roadmap

Too often, we dissect minute details of a company’s everyday actions looking for signs of health or strategy. Unfortunately, quarterly reports and individual actions can be totally misleading. That’s why I’ve created the above map, which charts, near as I can tell, the evolution of Apple’s entire product family from the Apple I to the iPhone. I was inspired to do it by this chronological sort done by Tom Ofslie that Fake Steve linked to last night. The images involved are of every major design revision, not necessarily model revision, that Apple has made in its 30 year history. So I decided to chart how various products superceded others in Apple’s history, and start to think about new implications.

I’m tired, I haven’t done much thinking, other than to notice that Apple’s four product lines really came together perfectly in 2001, just in time to launch the iPod from a position of strength. The above image is tiny, so head to Scribd to see it in full, especially as a PDF download. There’s a lot to take in, but I’m dying to know what you think. Do my connections make sense? Does a pattern emerge that implies where Apple will go next? What can we learn about overall design and innovation strategies from this process?

(All caveats about not showing software or feature launches acknowledged and ignored, naturally.)

See the full map!


4 Comments so far
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This is great, a nice addition of new layers of meaning. The nexus at iMac now I can see in context was a pre-cursor to the iPod family. Product planning is so much more complex than just design languages, it’s easy looking at this to forget huge unmet need in the market, which in some ways as iTunes took off also helped kick off iPod into high gear, yet iTMS was software not hardware so it’s influence and adption isn’t visualized in the products chart. TO really nerd out you have to add the ecosystem of their killer threadware: iTMS, .mac, iLife, etc. Nice work though!

Comment by Matt MacQueen

[…] Mortensen has put together an interesting chronological visualization of Apple products. He’s put up the raw file for people to offer their own take. This kind of comprehensive yet […]

Pingback by bplusd » Blog Archive » Visual Product History

When did Jonathan Ive’s (VP, Industrial Design) influence come in to play? 2000?

Comment by David

His rise to SVP of Design and Jobs’s return kind of coincide. However, he joined the company in 1992, so individual projects, including the second-generation Newtons, show his touch. I believe he was also the principal designer of the TAM.

Comment by morepete

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