A Salesman’s Salesman
Once again Steve Jobs has created excitement without a major product announcement. After all, the iMac had already been announced and the upgrade to a 56K modem wasn’t in doubt. One must take a moment to marvel at the enthusiasm that expands with his every word. No matter whether you are for or against his point of view, one still gets pulled into his charismatic orbit. It’s not limited to us Mac aficionados either. Just take a look at Apple’s stock during any few days surrounding a Jobs’ speech and you will see an average of a five point price jump. People buy into the Jobs mystic. After all, he is the one-time boy wonder who took a workbench experiment and turned it into a multi-billion dollar company. That’s only half the story; in true Hollywood fashion he is forced out, only to return later to save his incarnation.
Steve Jobs is as American as it gets. That explains much of his mystique. The rest belongs to a salesman/showmanship instinct in a public situation. His mercurial thought pattern softens into a mentor personality, allowing him to explain his products and vision in a non-offensive manner. This public persona lies in contrast to the stories of a micro-manager prone to temper-tantrums. In the end it all boils down to salesmanship. Steve Jobs creates in all of us an image of ownership. Not just of the physical object, but more importantly, the banner of pride of ownership.
Billboards, The Sequel
Last month, I changed directions in response to the “What The Hell..” billboard ads. Many of you responded in the same way I did, paraphrasing one response, “Why can’t they just go with what’s working?” Pittsburgh and Green Bay made the same mistake against the Broncos. Both teams were able to run the ball but they decided to get cute. In the meantime, Denver just kept running Terrell Davis. Guess who won? It’s the old saying: Do what you do best until the enemy figures out how to stop it, then change.
Billboard One: On the left is a picture of the East German car Trabant that the communist party built and fell apart by the millions. The words Pentium II below it. On the right, a James Bond BMW. The words Power PC G3 below it. Above both pictures, centered, the question: “Which one do you really want?”
Billboard Two: On the left, the word Merced with a white box below it with a question mark inside and the Intel logo below. On the right, the words Power PC G3 with a picture of the chip below and the Apple logo below it. Across the top the phrase “The Fact” Across the bottom “Think Different”.
The Bottom Line
The third quarter numbers went up again for the gang in Cupertino. It was wonderful to see CNBC talking about Apple without the phrases “embattled” or “troubled”. Some of the naysayers are partially correct when they point out that revenues are still down. However, the other side of the coin is that a year ago Apple products were sitting on shelves unsold. Apple had sold to dealers but the dealers couldn’t sell them which meant that dealers would shrink their order size. It’s elementary economics. Today, with a steamlined inventory of models, dealers are increasing their orders which means that growth can go forward based upon sound economic principles. Add to that Apple’s leaner, more fluid corporate structure and one has a recipe for growth. It’s mind boggling what the fourth quarter numbers could be if Apple can come within 5-10% of demand of both the iMac and PowerBook sales.
After 35 wonderful years as a citizen of Colorado, my wife, son and I are moving to Portland, Oregon. As it stands right now, the good news is that I will have Five Power Macs in my new classroom. The bad news is that much of the rest of the school is Wintel. At first I thought this was tragic; now I look at it as an opportunity to prove Mac superiority in numerous ways. I’ll also get a chance to do some comparative shopping between Fry’s and CompUSA. Oh, and yes, I will be attempting to set up another SE/Classic writing center. Any Portland readers please drop me a line, let me know where the good used computer stores are!