What a crazy day for Apple Inc., Macworld attendees, and me. Still trying to get the feeling back in my thumbs after live-blogging, via Blackberry, during the keynote. I really hope you found that useful.
The highlight of my day had to be the ten or so minutes I spent with Steve Jobs in an exclusive interview on CNBC just after his speech. He had his cup of tea, seemed to be a little under the weather, but even a cold couldn't dampen his enthusiasm for today's announcements. He was engaging, direct, honest, easy-going. For me, it was a great interview.
He walked me through the finer points of the new MacBook "Air." It's a gorgeous device and I could see why Jobs and his team would "lust after" something like this. His words, not mine. Don't underestimate the redesign of Intel's Core 2 Duo microprocessor, now 60 percent smaller just for this particular device. Very cool. Still, at $1,799, it ain't cheap.
Also, don't underestimate the power of the new iTunes movie rental service either. I asked Jobs whether this meant the format war between Blu-ray and HD-DVD was over, with Apple the big winner. Clearly, he said, Blu-ray won, but in the new world order of instant online movie rentals, in HD, no one will care about what format is where. Funny how fast tech can move.
Signing all the major studios is no small feat either. Warner Bros., Universal, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Paramount -- they've all jumped on board iTunes. Substantially all of Hollywood. AppleTV, take two, has a real shot. The power of technology. The power of Apple and Steve Jobs.
I told Jobs that I had sat down with Microsoft's Robbie Bach last week at the Consumer Electronics Show. I mentioned that Bach was particularly optimistic about the new Zune, that it was now a worthy alternative to Apple's iPod.
Asked Jobs: "Was he inebriated? Do you even know anyone who owns a Zune?" Touched a nerve, I suppose. Watch the video we loaded. It's a great exchange.
I love the Time Capsule, the wireless external back-up storage device. Great idea. I'd buy it.
Jobs told me he was thrilled with the iPhone sales numbers, even though Wall Street didn't seem to be. Unfortunate, because that 4 million units seems pretty impressive after only 200 days on store shelves.
I asked him about the on-again, off-again negotiations with China Mobile. "People just make this stuff up," he tells me. A single executive from China Mobile has visited Apple once. No prolonged negotiations of any kind. Fascinating. Where does this stuff come from?
But the best exchange with Jobs was toward the end of my interview when I asked him about recession worries and whether that would affect Apple sales. He maintains iPods, Macs, the iPhone are all competitively priced and he's not worried. Period.
I asked him also to address Apple's stock price that plunged during his speech today. I learned long ago, he told me, to manage the topline and bottomline will follow. He's not fixated on stock price; he's fixated on designing neat products that captivate the Mac faithful and convert those who aren't yet part of the Mac faithful. The rest, including a rising stock price, will follow. Pretty simple.
Apple reports earnings a week from tonight. Should be interesting to see what happens to Apple shares between now and then, as well as what this company will post from its all-important holiday shopping quarter. Nothing I heard today turns me off to Apple, especially longer term.
Apple will be caught in the Wall Street downdraft, and recession worries are real, especially for a consumer electronics company. But in these waves of uncertainty, fundamentally, Apple looks like a long-term island in a sea of short-term waves of uncertainty.
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