Steve Jobs Offers Insight In Rolling Stone Interview

by , 3:15 PM EST, December 8th, 2003

Rolling Stone has published a fairly in-depth interview with Steve Jobs. In keeping with Rolling Stone's musical bent, the interview focuses on Apple's music-related efforts, including the iPod, iTunes, the iTunes Music Store (iTMS), relations with labels, and much more. Steve Jobs explains such things as why the subscription model won't work, how he used predictions to get the labels to listen to Apple, and the fact that it was Michael Eisner who didn't get "Rip. Mix. Burn." From the interview:

Despite the success of iTunes, it seems that it's a little early to call all of your competitors failures. RealNetworks' Rhapsody, for example, has won over some critics.

One question to ask these subscription services is how many subscribers they have. Altogether, it's around 50,000. And that's not just for Rhapsody, it's for the old Pressplay and the old Musicmatch. The subscription model of buying music is bankrupt. I think you could make available the Second Coming in a subscription model, and it might not be successful.


When you went to see music executives, was there much comment about Apple's "Rip. Mix. Burn." campaign? A lot of them regarded it as an invitation to steal music.

The person who assailed us over it was Michael Eisner. But he didn't have any teenage kids living at home, and he didn't have any teenage kids working at Disney whom he talked to, so he thought "rip" meant "rip off." And when somebody actually clued him in to what it meant, he did apologize.


Apple has had a head start in the digital-music business, but obviously lots of other companies are getting into it now, too. Last week, for example, Dell came out with its rival to the iPod, the Dell DJ.

We will ship way more digital-music players than Dell this quarter. Way more. In the long run, we're going to be very competitive. Our online store is better than Dell's. And we have retail channels. Most people don't want to buy one of these things through the mail. Dell's distribution model works against them when they get into consumer electronics. Like, they're going to be selling plasma TVs online. Would you ever buy a plasma TV without seeing it? No way.

The interview also tells us that Apple has sold some 20 million songs via the iTMS, that Apple doesn't see much potential in having a movie download service, why he thinks Apple can beat Microsoft in the music download business, and much, much more. We recommend it as a very good read.