Apple didn’t revolutionize the sale of MP3 players just by making a better MP3 player. Of course, part of the iPod’s success was due to its being a great product - simpler and easier to use than prior MP3 players. But another important reason for the iPod’s success is that Apple looked beyond the product to the entire buying process for customers. When they looked at how customers used digital music from beginning to end, they discovered that for most people, the challenge of acquiring, transferring, and managing digital music was not just difficult, it was overwhelming.
Recognizing this critical flaw in the buying process, Apple developed the iTunes music store and software, which made it easier by an order of magnitude to purchase, organize, and transfer music to an MP3 player. By carefully understanding their customers’ buying process and taking ownership for their customers' success, not only did Apple position the iPod for success, they opened up an entirely new segment of customers who previously had shied away from purchasing digital music and MP3 players. Apple’s success is a powerful example of the importance of understanding your customers' buying process.