Timing is essential to make such big steps ahead. Carver Mead, a leading computer scientist at the California Institute of Technology, once said, “Listen to the technology; find out what it’s telling you.”
Mr. Jobs is undeniably a gifted marketer and showman, but he is also a skilled listener to the technology. He calls this “tracking vectors in technology over time,” to judge when an intriguing innovation is ready for the marketplace. Technical progress, affordable pricing and consumer demand all must jell to produce a blockbuster product.
This is something I have watched happen many times, and it is a well known phenomenon in some VC funding and technology circles. It's the difference between financial success (and the ability to fund later innovative ventures) and (for me) feelings of failing the technology. (In the end though, the technology will make it to the mainstream, through a meandering and strange path, possibly obscure.)
As I work on my Masters in Technology/Future Forecasting, these trends are something I am watching like a hawk. I want to understand and predict/forecast when society is primed and the time is right for launching these technologies. I know these answers in my gut, but gut is not empirical evidence.