business news in context, analysis with attitude

There was an interview with Apple CEO Steve Jobs in the Wall Street Journal the other day in which he discussed a wide range of subjects, but there were a couple of comments that he made that we thought were worth repeating. While not related to the food business, they were illustrative of a kind of business common sense, and therefore relevant.

In one case, Jobs was talking about the huge success of the iPod, and was asked if there were other new product categories – other than computers – that he’d be interested in getting the company into.

And he responded:

We look at a lot of things but I'm as proud of the products that we have not done as I am of the ones we have done.

Then, he was asked, “What's your favorite thing you've not done?”

And he answered:

A PDA. We got enormous pressure to do a PDA and we looked at it and we said, "Wait a minute, 90% of the people that use these things just want to get information out of them, they don't necessarily want to put information into them on a regular basis and cellphones are going to do that." So getting into the PDA market means getting into the cellphone market. And you know, we're not so good at selling to the enterprise where you've got, in the Fortune 500, five hundred orifices called CIOs. In the cellphone market you've got five. And so we figured we're not going to be very good at that.

The message: don’t be lured into competitive battles that you can’t win and in which other companies have far greater expertise. Do what you do best, and do it better than everyone else.

Then, when discussing the digital media revolution, Jobs made this fascinating observation about the movie business:

Let's look at how many ways are there to watch movies. I can go to the theater and pay my 10 bucks. I can buy my DVD for 20 bucks. I can get Netflix to rent my DVD to me for a buck or two and deliver it to my doorstep. I can go to Blockbuster and rent my DVD. I can watch my DVD on pay-per-view. I can wait a little longer and watch it on cable. I can wait a little longer and watch it on free TV. I can maybe watch it on an airplane. There are a lot of ways to watch movies, some for as cheap as a buck or two.

The message, it seems to us, is that as the world changes there are going to be more and more ways in which consumers are going to be able to access the products and services that they want…whether it be technology, entertainment, or foods and beverages.

And extended to the retailing business, it seems to us that the implication is that to succeed, retailers need to create environments that delight and entice and inform the shopper – not by sacrificing price, but by emphasizing value in its various forms.
KC's View: