Thursday, January 8, 2009

Analysts: Macworld "underwhelming", "evolutionary"

Apple watchers on Wall Street are weighing in on Tuesday's Phil Schiller-led keynote address at Macworld, which they found disappointing but somewhat reassuring when it comes to the continued role of Steve Jobs as the company's primary spokesperson.

Kaufman Brothers' Shaw Wu and PiperJaffray's Gene Munster both termed the event "underwhelming" in their reports, although they still maintain Buy ratings on the Cupertino-based company.

"Even though expectations weren't that high (especially with Steve Jobs not giving the keynote), we still found the announcements somewhat underwhelming," Wu wrote.  "This was arguably among the weakest product introductions we can remember over the last 10 [Macworlds].

Steve Jobs is known for his famous Reality Distortion Field.  Phil Schiller will be remembered for his "Aura of Disappointment".  In past keynotes, Phil "The Shill" has come off as a buffoon, with his over-enthusiastic fanboy response to everything Steve said.  Maybe it was calculated to make Steve look even better by comparison, but it always annoyed me. He seemed to be playing a part in a high school musical production.

My impression (from reports, I haven't seen the video yet) is that he did a reasonably good job with what he had.  During my Apple years, I was in a couple of meetings with Phil and Steve. I have to say that Phil's off-stage personality is quite different than you might expect from seeing him at Macworld. At the time, I was a bit surprised by how arrogant he seemed. Phil was definitely in command of the numbers regarding competitors' offerings, prices and sales projections. I imagine that Jobs likes him because he doesn't compete with Jobs' style and he does a good job of sticking to the talking points (presumably whatever Jobs wanted him to say).  As a software engineer, I've tended to look down on sales and marketing types who didn't know anything about technology.  Now, I realize that those guys really do run the company, and they get to keep a lot of the money.  Technology is important, but it's only the first step towards success.

Here's to Phil!  You've done a lot better than I ever though you would.

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