The digital music distribution business model was not solved by a particular file format, definitely not by digital rights management technology, or the shininess of a portable MP3 player. It was PCX, and in particular understanding and defining the behavioural attributes that are coded in music consumption that redefined this industry in the digital era.
Whilst CDs, cassettes and vinyl are cumbersome, and inferior in many ways, they offered one very pervasive experience: You could walk over to your shelf, pick a CD from your library and take it with you on a road trip.
Apple realised that the killer PCX attribute was the convenience in ‘picking it up and taking it somewhere’. When people could sync the iPod with their computer and easily transfer music between the two, Apple had nailed the Pervasive Customer Experience by closely mirroring the customer’s existing behaviour.
The icing on the cake was ensuring that the same product experience that started on the Mac was made available on the Windows PC. Apple uncovered a pervasive experience attribute that provided a blueprint for designing a brand and user experience that was transferable and could be delivered on any platform and device.
The core reason for the success of Apple’s music strategy is the ecosystem that borrows all the best parts of what people were already doing in the real world. Every project must give credit to what customers actually do, and then embed the aligned behaviour–experience attributes in the digital platform.