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

Steve Jobs has been making a point of appearing on CNBC to promote whatever Appleis (or Pixaris) latest announcement is. Yesterday, Mr. Jobs was on CNBCis after-hours show to promote Appleis new retail stores. Mr. Jobs was standing outside one of the 2 stores that opened yesterday (the Tysonis 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 Appleis Web site yesterday. Mr. Jobs said that "the problem we found through research is that most of them arenit even considering a Mac. Weire not even getting a chance to suit up." Ms. Herera asked "why not?" and Mr. Jobs replied that for some reason they just werenit thinking about the Mac. He didnit seem prepared for that particular question, but he recovered smoothly.

Mr. Jobs said that Appleis goal was to locate their stores in high-traffic gathering places where those people (the other 95 out of 100) were concentrated. "Weire 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, weire 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, thereis hardly anywhere you can go where youire going to have a digital camera hooked up to a Mac, or to any type of PC. In an Apple store, youill 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, itis 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 Fortunais 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. Fortunais 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 weire feeling pretty good," he said. "Weive got some great new products right now, and weire 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 Appleis 5% market share was more than BMWis or Mercedes-Benzis 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.