the iTunes store. iTunes itself was launched two years earlier, but it was the iTunes store that put a blue ocean of competitive advantage between iTunes and other mp3 players (and retailers, and record labels and...). Today, the latest Apple results reports total sales through the iTunes store of $1.4 billion in the last quarter alone. Not bad for an eight year old service.
Of course there have been lots of criticism of the Apple approach to innovation - including accusations that Steve Jobs is killing jobs. Not surprisingly these tend to come from those sectors on the wrong end of the Apple innovation curve. Sometimes capitalism's creative destruction can look a lot like destructive creation. As for myself, I now buy more music (and listen to more) than at any time since I was a teenager. Thanks to iTunes (and to Radio Paradise where I usually hear most new music first - whilst listening to it on, yes, iTunes).
Now don't get me wrong - I'm not a total Mac fan (in the PC vs Mac sense). I'll keep using my iMac but - much as I like my iPhone - I'll be getting an Android phone next time. Sure it's very pretty in the walled garden that is the iPhone, but I increasingly want to peek over the wall at what's going on outside. Mind you, it could just be a defensive reaction on my part. After all, I can date the 'death' of my own industry - market research - to the date of another Apple product launch: the iPhone, on June 29th 2007. That was when the smart phone took off - and the smart phone will be the future of the market research industry in time.
Of course, the iPhone was only launched less than four years ago. So plenty of time yet...