Strategy Interview: David Wright

David Wright joined Apple Canada in 1981 as a systems engineer in the Edmonton office, and, since then, has served in various sales and marketing positions. Wright distinguished himself at Apple by establishing the Consumer Division, which over-achieved all targets in...

David Wright joined Apple Canada in 1981 as a systems engineer in the Edmonton office, and, since then, has served in various sales and marketing positions. Wright distinguished himself at Apple by establishing the Consumer Division, which over-achieved all targets in its first year. In June 1993, he was promoted to vice-president, marketing, and is responsible for overall management of national marketing initiatives, including product management, pricing, advertising, public relations, promotions, events and strategic marketing programs and services.

Q. What is Apple’s niche and how is it being communicated in advertising and marketing efforts?

A. There isn’t one Apple message, but they all relate back to the fact that it’s the easiest computer to use on the market, the one that will make a user more effective.

We’re communicating that right now through an advertising campaign for the home market that’s running right now in Canada, where we’re talking about multimedia, and, on the Mac, it’s much easier to use than other environments. Particularly Windows.

It’s competitively-oriented advertising, specifically showing the difficulties a customer experiences when using multimedia in the dos environment.

Q. Apple is running infomercials for Performa in the u.s. Are infomercials and Performa slated for the Canadian market?

A. The Apple Performa infomercials have only been running a month, and, I think they want to take a bit of time to measure how they did first in terms of response through customer surveys.

Performa is a product name launched in the u.s. a couple of years ago, and we are very seriously looking at bringing that into Canada now.

Essentially, it is an all-in-one package that includes software titles, and provides the customer with an easy-to-use experience.

We already offer bundled software with our lc products.

The LC575 is the equivalent to a Performa product in the u.s.

We include a number of cd titles with it, and most of the elements of the Performa packaging.

We think there’s a great opportunity to work with the synergy the u.s. is creating, and capitalize on that. That’s why we’re pushing ahead with that.

Q. What market does Apple Canada see as its biggest growth area?

A. From what I understand about home office and small business in Canada, either this year or next year, there will be more computers sold into the home than the business market.

When you think about it, they’re including in that business number all business acquisitions, and the home will actually buy more.

For people like me who have been in the industry many years, that’s quite a fascinating number.

There was a time the home market was purely hobbyist. Ten years ago, businesses were buying computers in very large quantities, and the home market was a very small fraction.

Now, we’ve gotten to the point where the penetration rate into homes is somewhere between 25% and 30%, depending on whose numbers we’re working with.

The potential, I think, is somewhere in the area of 60% to 65% penetration.

Q. What other market segments look good to Apple?

A. The whole multimedia area in the higher end of the market, in terms of electronic imaging, is exploding right now, and we’re very strong in that segment.

In terms of education, we’ve done very well there. In fact, in some provinces in Canada, we have marketshare between 70% and 80%.

Another area that is very strong for us is the powerbook area. That area is exploding as well.

You’re going to see a number of unbelievable technologies relating to things like wireless technologies, where you can sit in an office or boardroom with your powerbook, with wireless technology, and be hooked into the network at all times.

Q. The balance of power in the computer industry seems to be shifting from hardware to software. Is Apple’s point of difference being threatened by software advancements that help make other computers more Mac-like?

A. One thing that’s very important to understand from a software point of view is Apple’s primary competition is on an operating system level with Microsoft [Windows,] and companies like Compaq, nec and ast, in fact, run Microsoft software.

Software has come a long way, but, typically, software lags hardware from a development point of view in terms of fully utilizing the capabilities of the hardware. Usually by several years.

It’s taken several years for the software community to fully exploit what is out there today in terms of the Intel chip set, which is Pentium and 486 technology and the 68k platform that our machines in some cases run on today.

We really believe the chip we’re using in our Power PC is going to provide users with functionality and programs at a price point that previously would have been significantly higher.

Q. How is computing changing, and how is Apple changing to adapt?

A. People are getting away from the text and graphic mode, and moving much more toward interactive video and a lot more use of audio in computing. That requires a significant amount of hardware power.

Those kinds of things have, frankly, been limited to higher-end work station-like products.

The Power Macintosh makes it possible for people to do things that would have previously been very expensive.

All software that runs on existing Macintosh-based computers also runs on Power Macintosh.

The new software that’s being written specifically for that machine looks the same, feels the same, but, in some cases, it can be 10 times or 20 times faster, depending on what you’re doing, relative to the previous technology.