How Tim Cook buying Beats is like Steve Jobs buying SoundJam

“The year was 1999. Steve Jobs was on stage at Macworld introducing the latest iMac with Firewire, Quicktime and iMovie. He told the faithful that iMovie was going to be to the Mac what desktop publishing had been 15 years earlier. Internally, the whole company — hardware, software, marketing — was aligned with making Macs the best computers for making home movies,” Philip Elmer-DeWitt writes for Fortune.

“Fast forward 14 months and Jobs is on stage telling the faithful he has a new vision for the Mac. It’s called the Digital Hub, and it’s going to start not with movies but with music,” P.E.D. writes. “‘It was a complete change!’ says Ben Thompson, who studied the incident — and interviewed some of the folks involved — as a summer intern at Apple University in 2010.”

“Jobs confessed in 2005 that he was blindsided by Napster and the sudden popularity of digital music downloading. ‘I felt like a dope,’ Jobs told Fortune‘s Brent Schlender. ‘I thought we had missed it,'” P.E.D. writes. “Because Apple didn’t have time to build its own music program, the company bought SoundJam — which was adapted and renamed iTunes. Then Apple made a deal with Toshiba for some tiny hard drives, and the iPod was developed in six months.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

Related article:
The history of Apple’s iPod – July 26, 2005


  1. Beats is all about music curation. It’s an ideal future for Siri integration. iTunes Radio tried it but failed. They have to redo the formula. Plus, Iovine gives Cook the “culture” gene Tim desperately needs. What’s cool is that Cook realizes it.

    1. I think Apple just never marketed iTunes the way it does the iPhone/iPad…

      Samsung has proven… marketing can sometimes win more users… or at least some perception of usefulness.

      The interesting part is… does Apple build iTunes for Android (or is fragmentation too much to overcome)? It’s not like just making an iPod USB-based for Windows…

    2. I’ve been using this comparison for all those naysayers who keep questioning the Beats acquisition. Apple is most often NOT a company which invents everything, but a company which has a vision, develops some pieces, AND ACQUIRES OTHERS. It’s just that Beats is a large (dollar-wise) acquisition, so it’s getting a lot of attention.

  2. iMovie was a very cool application back in 2000. I made several projects. But apart for special events it was quite a bit of work and not really a mainstream activity.
    Now music was something different. CD ripping was taking off in a big way. Hard drives now had plenty of space and hooking computers up to stereos was possible.
    When iTunes came along I started to convert all my music for iTunes. That included some vinyl which took a while. Once it was complete then I loved the fact that I could listen to any song or album without having to load the physical media.
    Personal music players were still lame. CD players skipped. Tape players needed tapes to be rewound. Batteries would run out and the headphone jack would lose connection.
    When iTunes came out and I had finished ripping my library I remember thinking to myself that it would be great if a portable player could do the same thing. Six months later apple came out with the iPod. I didn’t buy one until the 3G came out because I wanted all my music on the device and needed 15GB. But once I did it was great to use it wherever I wanted: home, car, walking and running. Not perfect but really widened my ability to listen to what I wanted and reinvigorated my appreciation for music.

      1. Yes, let them screw up with another bolt-on piece of crap code…
        When Apple wrote the code and introduced iTunes for Windows, millions of people downloaded the App. I wonder how many Windows users eventuly converted to Mac OS because of iApps…?
        Yes, Google is the new Microsoft

        1. iTunes for Windows was a very different situation. At the time, Apple had Macs and iPods, and a LOT of Windows users wanted to use an iPod but couldn’t get a good music management system to work well with an iPod. Plus, Apple was using the iPod Halo effect to convert people to Macs from Windows.

          The iPhone/iPad is not in the same position as the Mac was back then. Those devices dominate the market, particularly for purchased apps and music. Apple knows the demographic of an Android user, and it’s mostly a person who wants their media and apps for free. So what’s the point?

    1. I seriously doubt you’ll see iTunes on Android. Apple uses iTunes and its other apps to draw people to its ecosystem, and keep them there. Having iTunes on Android would make it far too easy for people to switch devices.

  3. Reading the comments below the article is so impressive. Intelligent thoughts by reasoned people. Why oh why does MDN draw the haters, the political, the downright miserable?
    Everyday I come here and find mindless anti government, anti everything. Seems like a junior high club most days.

      1. … his(?) negative opinion of a significant fraction of the posts, here. So, you should say that. Calling him a “troll” is just so much proof of HIS point about the haters that seem to post here. Sure, this thread is unusually free of them, so he may actually BE a troll. But, his point is spot on. Just … not THIS time.
        BTW: I picked up on iMovie early as well. Made a number of (very) small movies with it. Added titles and music and such, edited different views. Strictly amateur hour stuff, but stuff I could not have made any other way. Not nearly as easily.

    1. Absolutely agree CupertinoJoe. Clearly it’s the lack of any requirement for users to register and the lack of moderation that allows the endless off-topic rubbish that passes for intelligent comment. Far from being an Apple enthusiast’s haven to grab useful information and news, MDN attracts a great number of half-wits, trolls and juveniles. MDN also encourages this behaviour with provocative articles on a regular basis. Anything for hits eh, MDN? Apologies to those few regulars here who do contribute intelligent, thoughtful comments.

    2. What do you expect, the owner of this site is just as jaded. I;m convinced he still lives in his mom’s basement.

      DuckDuckGo: Machash, it is a great aggregate site for mac news, without the trolls and snark.

    3. THIS is the article you chose to post that comment on? There are so many other articles on MDN that have FAR more political, anti-government, and hate/vulgar posts than this one. In fact, this one is pretty tame.

  4. DogGoneToo,

    I had almost the same experience! When I switched to the Mac in 2001 it came preloaded with about 200 songs in iTunes. I began ripping my entire CD collection into the Mac. It was great, being able to call up my music moments notice. Then, when the iPod came to market I, too, waited until the 3G iPod before I sprung for a 30 GB model. The superior Mac hardware coupled with iTunes and iMovie coaxed me to make the switch to the Mac, and I’ve never looked back!

  5. I like to make a fresh batch of popcorn and come to MDN just for the comments. I click through every once in a while to read an article or two, but the comments are pure fun.

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