What does the future hold for satellite radio? Will Microsoft's
I recently talked about these topics with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, author of the new book iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It.
Mac Greer: Steve, I'll spot you up with a few different things happening in society and ask you, if they were stocks, would you be buying, selling, or holding? XM
Steve Wozniak: I would buy. Once you encounter it, it is a one-way street. You go through it and you don't back out. You just discover that there are more stations of the types you want at a very reasonable price and so they basically . will hold their clientele, and it is large enough. I have to say, I am biased. I actually got to be a DJ on XM Radio a few weeks ago.
Mac Greer: Next up is a consumer item. There is a lot of buzz surrounding this. I know you are an early adopter -- in fact, I think, the first consumer adopter of this. Buy, sell, or hold the Segway?
Steve Wozniak: Correct. Sell.
Mac Greer: Now, what happened with the Segway? I know before they introduced it, there was all this speculation as to what it might be. It could be a jet pack, it could revolutionize society. Now when I think Segways, I think airport policemen and that is pretty much it.
Steve Wozniak: Well, you have got it exactly right. It is so high-priced -- $5,000. I love my Segway. I ride it down the hill from my house, into town, watch a movie, go to a restaurant, ride it back up the hill and I am home. It's so much easier than all the hassles of a car. It is different than a bicycle. It is different than walking. It is different than cars. It has its places.
I carry it in my car. When I am in a strange city, I can go up and down a bunch of sidewalks, learn bits about the city very quickly, or I can park a distance from a venue that has crowded parking and then ride the Segway down and go in the front door, ride in the front door.
I play Segway polo. So I love the Segway. For a niche market, it has got a good draw and they sell well worldwide, almost 50% of the sales are outside of the U.S.
Mac Greer: So do you think it was more of a marketing problem, or was it more of a pricing problem? Or both?
Steve Wozniak: Well, I think the technology, for what it does . the value proposition is a little on the low side. Five thousand dollars doesn't do everything in the world like a personal computer does, and they recently cut their manufacturing costs by about $1,500, but it is still not passed on to the user or the dealers. The dealers have a real tough time. They are very low-profit-margin, and it just makes it so difficult to sell.
And yet to those of us who have it, we love it. It is like that movie, WhoKilled the Electric Car? If you have got one . you know how great it is for yourself, and you love it. But so much money went into that company. That money will never be paid back.
Mac Greer: It is Microsoft's answer to the iPod. It was just introduced. Buy, sell, or hold the Zune?
Steve Wozniak: The Zune? Ha, sell. We are talking the technology, not the company Microsoft?
Mac Greer: Right.
Steve Wozniak: But no, you know what? The iPod has about 3,000 other companies making products for it, making different speaker systems and boom boxes and microphones and FM radio transmitters and FM radio receivers and cases. It looks like a big, big giant world and the Zune, by comparison, looks small, like the Macintosh always looked in the stores. It looks like this is a small, specific community that might be very good for some people in some situations, and the Zune has some pluses and some minuses, but it just doesn't look as huge. It is not going to overtake the iPod.
Mac Greer: And finally, he has accomplished a tremendous amount. He invented the personal computer, co-founded Apple, and had fun doing it. Buy, sell or hold the Woz?
Steve Wozniak: Oh gosh, that is a loaded question. I would have to say hold, because I have no idea what you're holding at.
Mac Greer: Fair enough. Steve Wozniak is the co-founder of Apple, and he is the author of iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-founded Apple and Had Fun Doing It, a book that he wrote with Gina Smith.
You can read more from the Woz and other innovators in our Ahead of the Curve series:
Audio/video Fool Mac Greer doesn't own any of the stocks discussed, nor does he doesn't own a Segway. He did, however, once own a Schwinn Orange Crate with a five-speed stick shift. The Fool's disclosure policy has a banana seat.