Sometimes there’s a new niche and nobody in it really knows what they’re doing. Other times a niche has passed its peak and the people making money in it have begun to neglect it. It’s almost a cliché that anything “underground” looks like it’s been mimeographed in a basement and assembled like a ransom note. Many opportunities are just waiting to hit the mainstream if someone could make them a little bit more user friendly. Walt Disney liked the idea of amusement parks, but he didn’t like the dirty, carnival like atmosphere they usually had. Disneyland was his dream to mix the best parts of amusement parks with the best elements of world fairs. In its earliest stages Disneyland was envisioned as a small park with amusement rides across the street from the animation studio. Eventually it grew into a much larger project as Disney recognized that there might be more interest in his park than he first realized. Millions of visitors a year to Disney theme parks will attest to that.J.K. Rowling had always loved literature. The problem with much of children’s fantasy literature was that it was written on a very simplistic level. It talked down to children who were beginning to look at the world with grown up perspectives. To counter this, she created Harry Potter, who lived in a fantasy world, but had to deal with very grown up themes such as life, death and the responsibility of power. Prior to the Harry Potter phenomenon, publishers would have thought that releasing a children’s book that weighed in at 870 pages would be pure insanity. With worldwide sales in the billions of dollars, it would seem that there’s money to be made if you don’t underestimated the intelligence of ten year-olds.From the very first computer he and Steve Wozniak made, Steve Jobs has been focused on excellence. While this pursuit of creating the best user experience possible often put him at odds with an industry that was focused on mass markets and thin margins, no one can deny that some of the best ideas in technology came to the surface whenever he was around. When he decided that Apple Computers should go after the digital music market, they launched iTunes, arguably the best jukebox software available on any platform. He followed that up with the iPod, one of best selling consumer electronics devices ever. He upped it a notch even further when Apple added the ability to buy digital music via the iTunes interface. Jukebox software, MP3 players and online music stores all existed prior to iTunes and iPod, but it was Apple’s focus on creating a better user experience that put them ahead of the game.Sometimes the only way to enter a market is by doing things better than anyone else had before. Disney, Rowling and Jobs approached their ideas with a dedication to making them a quality experience. Their creations were given the kind of attention that others didn’t provide. Rowling’s efforts at creating excellent books for readers also attracted a huge adult audience that also like a good read. Steve Jobs and his design team looked at all the products out there and identified areas that needed to be improved. Take a look at a few of the things you buy or are interested in. Make a list of what could be better about them.

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