When it comes to innovation, it’s not enough to have a great idea. Execution, timing, and maybe having a few lawyers by your side are all key. In The True Story of the Internet: Browser Wars, I was almost shocked to see the aggression with which Microsoft went after Netscape in its quest for monopoly. What kind of world would we be living in today if we had to pay a toll every time we wanted to access the internet? Even in public places where I don’t necessarily have the right to free Wi-Fi access, I feel personally offended if asked to pay for anything more than a cup of coffee to access the Internet.
Besides the giggles that come with looking at (what seems like) baby photos of tech giants, it was interesting to see the beginnings of copyright and intellectual property disputes on the web. The videos point to YouTube and Napster as innovations that opened the gates of content distribution, giving media moguls a financial panic attack. Today, streaming services like Spotify work with record companies to pay artists for their work, but some think it’s still not enough. Interestingly, when Taylor Swift withdrew her entire catalog of music from Spotify ahead of her 1989 album launch, the move actually brought Spotify more business. Scores of people who had never heard of Spotify but had heard of Taylor Swift came to the music streaming service to see what it was about. In a recent interview with CNET, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek points out that the people who would have provided compensation to Swift via Spotify are now likely turning to free YouTube videos to consume her content.
The popularity of Spotify parallels the rapid growth of Google as compared to other search engines. Google cared deeply about search – something its competitors let fall by the wayside. In this article from The Verge, Ben Popper notes that the standout difference between music streaming services today is curation. People want to discover, share and amass a collection of excellent music. Spotify’s Discover Weekly feature, an automatically curated playlist based on user data, sets the platform apart. In the end, lasting and successful innovation seems to come down to a user-focused approach.