We Have The Technology (10/20/03)

Is it just us, or does anyone else find it a little spooky that the CEO of Apple Computer, Inc. can be interviewed by Newsweek (however briefly) and never once be asked about the Mac? And isn't it even spookier that, whether he was asked about it or not, Steve Jobs didn't even mention the Mac-- not once, in answers to seven questions? It's no joke, kiddies; Halloween came early this year, and Apple is in full costume as a music technology company; any semblance of its secret identity as a mild-mannered maker of personal computers got checked at the door.

Or is it a costume? Dunt-dunt-dunt-dunnnnnnnnnnn!

It's true; "the music thing" is a bigger and bigger part of Apple's identity, and the company's involvement with digital music is slowly becoming completely uncoupled from the Macintosh-- first with Windows-compatible iPods, and now with iTunes for Windows and a platform-agnostic music store. So it's not exactly a surprise that Newsweek wouldn't ask Steve a single Mac-specific question, but it still gives us the heebie-jeebies. Still, it's worth facing your fear and reading the interview, because it's fascinating to get a little more insight into this whole music push from Steve's perspective.

For one thing, there's his take on the competition: eventually it'll all come down to Apple vs. Microsoft, says he-- which shows you just how scared he is of the BuyMusics and Napsters of the world, i.e. not freakin' much. He is, however, justifiably a little edgy about having to go head-to-head with Redmond on the downloadable music front, and says "maybe Microsoft will decide not to [sell music online]. They don't compete with eBay, they don't compete with Amazon, they don't compete with a lot of people." Of course, you just know that Bill Gates is reading that right now, slapping his forehead, saying "Duh, eBay! And Amazon!" and adding a couple of rows to the end of CRUSH_EM.XLS. Here's hoping that Apple's strategy amounts to more than, in Steve's words, "maybe if we're lucky..."

On the topic of the iPod's $300-to-$500 pricing, we get this gem: "No, of course I don't think it's too costly." (This coming from a billionaire, of course.) "Fifty million homes have DVD players that cost that kind of money." That kind of money, sure, Steve-- green and wrinkly with ugly dead guys on it-- but maybe not quite that much of it. Sure, really good DVD players can cost $300, $500, and way more, but we're guessing that plenty of those fifty million homes have sub-$50 models they picked up at Costco. And yes, there are indeed "sneakers that cost more than an iPod," but there's also a bra that cost $2 million more than Steve Austin-- that doesn't mean we can all afford to dash out and get bionic legs that make that neat sound when we jump really high in slo-mo.

But lord bless 'im, the man hasn't lost touch with the little people: "We'd love to have a $100 iPod! We just don't know how to do it right now. We're constantly trying to make cheaper iPods. We're working on the next step." Psssst, Steve! Here's one way to go about it: 1) Make a $299 iPod. 2) Cut its price by $199. There's no step three!

(Oh, we're sorry-- did you mean a profitable one?)

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The above scene was taken from the 10/20/03 episode:

October 20, 2003: The naysayers keep saying nay, but Apple announces a million downloads of iTunes for Windows and a million songs sold in just half a week. Meanwhile, Steve has a chin-wag with Newsweek about competing with Microsoft and why the iPod is actually dirt-cheap, and cut the disrespect, because those iPod silhouette dancers have names, you know...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 4279: Doomed; DOOMED, We Say (10/20/03)   Welcome to Week 2 in the era of iTunes for Windows, and the weather is still a little stormy, but there are signs of sunshine on the horizon. Sure, Apple's support forums for the Windows users are just a little more active than is probably healthy, but after poking around a bit we found that there are quite a few occurrences of "I love iTunes!" sentiments interspersed with the "iTunes erased my hard drive, shot my dog, set fire to my car, spat in my Frosted Flakes, and won't even play my WMAs" complaints....

  • 4281: They Shall Overcome (10/20/03)   Just a quickie, here, folks, in the vein of a public service announcement. We've noticed an alarming trend among the general population to marginalize a very visible minority in our community: iPod Silhouette Dancers...

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