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Steve Jobs Interviewed On CNBC, Touts Apple Stores Using BMW Analogy

Steve Jobs Interviewed On CNBC, Touts Apple Stores Using BMW Analogy

by , 8:00 AM EDT, May 16th, 2001

Steve Jobs has been making a point of appearing on CNBC to promote whatever Apple's (or Pixar's) latest announcement is. Yesterday, Mr. Jobs was on CNBC's after-hours show to promote Apple's new retail stores. Mr. Jobs was standing outside one of the 2 stores that opened yesterday (the Tyson's Center mall location in McLean, Virginia, to be exact), while the CNBC host, Sue Herera was in the studio. Mr. Jobs kicked off the interview by offering the same BMW/Mercedes analogy coupled with the "we want the other 95 out of 100 people who use another brand of computer to use a Mac" line that was debuted on Apple's Web site yesterday. Mr. Jobs said that "the problem we found through research is that most of them aren't even considering a Mac. We're not even getting a chance to suit up." Ms. Herera asked "why not?" and Mr. Jobs replied that for some reason they just weren't thinking about the Mac. He didn't seem prepared for that particular question, but he recovered smoothly.

Mr. Jobs said that Apple's goal was to locate their stores in high-traffic gathering places where those people (the other 95 out of 100) were concentrated. "We're going to make it so that those customers only have to walk a few feet into our store," he said. "Once they get in our store, we're going to educate them as to what these products can do."

CNBC responded to this by asking if Mr. Jobs bought the argument that Apple was simply cannibalizing their existing dealer sales. The argument used was that people walking into a Circuit City might not be looking for "an Apple," but that they were at least exposed to the product. She added that customers would have to make an appointment to look at the Macs that are in the new Apple stores. Mr. Jobs seemed taken aback by that (rather silly) question, and replied with an emphatic no. "Oh no, not at all," he said. "See again, there's hardly anywhere you can go where you're going to have a digital camera hooked up to a Mac, or to any type of PC. In an Apple store, you'll be able to go in, take a picture, upload it to the Mac, print it out right there, even create a personal Web site with that photo on it. So, it's really about learning what these products can do, working together. The hardware, the application software, even portable digital devices like digital cameras, and camcorders."

The next topic of discussion was Steve Fortuna's predictions that PC sales would be flat the rest of the year and really pick up in 2002. (Check out our most recent commentary about Mr. Fortuna's forecasts). Ms. Herera then asked Mr. Jobs to comment. Mr. Jobs offered the same "my crystal ball is hazy" kind of response we have heard in several recent interviews. He also quipped (once again) that Apple would have to play the economic hand it was dealt. "I think we're feeling pretty good," he said. "We've got some great new products right now, and we're getting some tremendously good customer reactions on them, like the new iBook." Mr. Jobs gestured back towards the Apple Store in the background when he said that, suggesting he had just gotten some customer feedback on the new iBook a few minutes before.

Mr. Jobs closed with some comments about hoping that the other customers at the other 23 stores (25 total) would also give Apple good reactions.

It was at this point that the most interesting aspect of the interview/story took place. The CNBC host commented to her co-anchor, Ron Insana, that the BMW/Mercedes-benz analogy really struck her. She repeated the analogy itself, that Apple's 5% market share was more than BMW's or Mercedes-Benz's market share in their (auto) industry, and said it "was an interesting comparison." She went on to say that "sometimes he is not as forthcoming as he was in this particular interview." More in the Spin.

The Mac Observer Spin:

Mac users, and those PC bigots that like to engage us in the kinds of inflammatory dialogue that only Mac/PC arguments can generate, have long been familiar with the BMW analogy. Pundits and demagogues on both side of the issue have long argued the particular merits of the comparision, and it is simply not a new thing to most of us. It takes an event like this interview with a non-nerdy financial talking head to sometimes drive home the fact that the Mac faithful do not necessaarily accurately reflect the rest of the world. It was clear that this was the first time she had heard that comparison, and that it really made her Think Different(ly) about Apple and the Mac. For her to comment on it after the interview itself not only reinforces its impact on her, but it also reinforced the idea in the minds of the people watching the program. <MANTRA>You can't buy PR like that.</MANTRA>

We would also like to applaud the fact that Mr. Jobs is publicly pursuing the same aggressive stance about wanting the other 95% of computer users to use a Mac and have a better experience. His comments in this interview were not quite as to the point as the retail Web site's stance, but he still implied that the Mac was better than Windows. Clearly this is going to be a part of the company's overall strategy in the coming months. We certainly hope so.

Steve Jobs was confident and passionate during this interview. It was clear that he believed in what his company was doing, and the quality of the interview strongly reflected that. He was engaging, and interesting, and we think this was one of his best appearances on CNBC yet.

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