Top Innovators

Steve Jobs: Redefining User Experience

Apple CEO Steve Jobs' skill in anticipating the ways consumers want to interact with technology has vaulted his company to the top and changed the game for everyone else.

Apple didn't make the first MP3 player, or the first smartphone, or the first tablet. But thanks to Steve Jobs' vision --summed up in his oft-repeated maxim: "Think Different" -- the Cupertino, Calif.-based company has redefined the technology user's experience.

The iPod, iPhone and iPad have put users in control of technology like never before by combining an innovative-yet-intuitive interface and late-generation mobile functionality. And the proliferation of these devices has recast consumer expectations, driving changes in how businesses, including insurance companies, service customers, distribute and collaborate on documents, and gather information in the field.

Despite its hefty price tag, the iPod, released in October 2001, swept the country and set the standard for hand-held devices -- and the user experience -- through the decade. Within five years of the iPod's release, Apple controlled 80 percent of the MP3 player market, according to NPD Group.

As competitors mimicked the iPod's value proposition, however, Apple's dominance began to slip -- it settled in at about 70 percent of the MP3 player market in 2008. But by then, Jobs and Apple already had moved on from MP3 players, introducing the iPhone -- a phone, MP3 player, camera and more all rolled into one, with a sleek touchscreen interface -- the previous year.

In naming it Invention of the Year in 2007, Time celebrated the iPhone's design, noting that Jobs made sure AT&T didn't influence that design (or his vision). And Jobs knew what he had in the device. "The iPod changed everything in 2001," he said at the iPhone's unveiling. "We're going to do it again with the iPhone."

Mobile apps, distributed through Apple's iTunes AppStore, quickly became every bit as ubiquitous as MP3s. And insurance carriers have used the model to revolutionize the way they interact with customers, launching policy servicing and claims reporting apps, as well as brand-building offerings.

Now Jobs is rewriting the rules again. Apple's iPad tablet is changing the computing paradigm, and the company's innovative consumer technologies are reshaping enterprise IT. "With recent updates in terms of encrypted backups and remote disabling, we're seeing in Apple's [mobile operating system] the company's push to get into the enterprise," Celent analyst Craig Beattie says.

Top Innovators