Apple’s role as the tech industry’s resident heavyweight innovator is so obvious that it’s nearly taken for granted. Remember for a moment, back to October 23, 2000, the day the first-generation iPod was introduced, when Apple’s stock closed at $20.371 a share. Today, a venerable lifetime of iPads, iPhones, and iTunes purchases later, shares hover around $530. In just under 14 years, that marks a 2550% increase.

Simply put, innovation pays.

But now, the next evolutionary step in home entertainment has arrived, and surprisingly, it isn’t an iAnything. According to The Wall Street Journal, “We can thank the iPod for the idea that our lives can have a soundtrack like the movies … but iPods constrained music to headphones. Now we want to live in perpetual party mode, filling every room in the house with any song.”

Sonos, a wireless audio company with a “universal music approach,” has unveiled what The Journal refers to as a “sonic dream” — an app and interface ($49), with the ability to play any song, whether it’s from the dozens of streaming services available, such as Pandora, or an MP3 from your personal library, anytime, and in multiple rooms of your home.

“So what happens when you’ve got iTunes purchases, Pandora radio, and Spotify on demand? Sonos figured it out,” writes The Journal’s Geoffrey A. Fowler. “The clean, simplified redesign and search capability of the new Sonos app is like Google for your music.”

Fowler continues, “Sonos’s competitors will move fast to work with more streaming services, but for now Sonos has a significant edge [and] is an example of how today’s consumer electronics-makers can significantly advance their products with software. The result: Internet services baked into a smarter user interface.”

And while Sonos deserves the spoils of it’s success, in order for the company to find success by way of long-term, sustained innovation and transformational leadership, it must adhere to four, fundamental pillars for innovation as defined by Insigniam. From setting a management mandate and crafting a dedicated infrastructure, to forging a proprietary innovation process and ensuring traction by way of cultivating a supporting culture — each pillar must be constructed for innovation to flourish.

Furthermore, by it’s very nature, innovation is a path without a destination. And while innovative devices and products can transform markets, innovation is a seemingly endless journey — of which there can be enormous rewards along the way.

As benefactors of these creations, we wait with great interest for what exciting advancement comes next — from integrated entertainment platforms to revolutions in medical devices — since innovation will always be music to our ears.

1. Yahoo Finance, Apple Inc.(AAPL) Historical Prices, October 23, 2000.

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