- Apple: Apple always comes to mind as a company that’s consistently found its next S-curve over the past decade. There was a time when Apple was consistently in Microsoft’s shadow – but Apple’s introduction of the iPod was a turning point. Using clean, intuitive design, Apple produced a product that far outshone other MP3s. Next, Apple introduced the iPhone, followed by the iPad. Today, Apple products are ubiquitous, beloved by millions and have played a major role in changing how we communicate, work and live.
- Amazon: I’ve written before about how companies should be constantly iterating on a four-step innovation process to sustainable growth, which includes the “test” step. This step is one that too many companies bypass in their eagerness to bring a new product or concept to market. I’m a firm believer that testing is vital, and it doesn’t always have to be fancy. For instance, when Jeff Bezos was exploring the concept behind Amazon, he simply put a few books up for sale online to gauge interest. When someone purchased a book, he packaged and mailed it himself. The rest, as they say, is history. Amazon has hit a few S-curves since then, and is now worth billions.
- Netflix: Netflix capitalized on people’s dissatisfaction with the late fees at movie stores, allowing customers to order movies via mail and keep them for their desired amount of time. This ultimately became the preferred method of movie rentals, and contributed to the decline of brick and mortar movie stores. The company hit its next S-curve when it moved into streaming movies and television shows, then another when it began producing Netflix Original Series, which have proven to be hugely popular with audiences.
This list is a just a small sample, of course. But it’s meant to serve as a reminder that even the largest, most successful companies had to start somewhere. They simply adapted and grew by continuing to look for the next S-curve.