Forget the elitist tinge to that remark. When someone was as impressive in his work as Steve Jobs, there's no point in raising silly questions about something as trivial as focus groups.
Allow me to speak from personal experience. In their search for a life raft to the next generation, the media have been inviting groups to sit around in conference rooms to tell the editors how newspapers should do their jobs. It's all very collegial and home-townish that, for all of the confidence in unprofessional newspaper readers, it hasn't changed a thing other than to make editors, for a brief moment, at least, feel like they've done something very positive to connect the paper to the community.
Back in my newspaper days, I made the anti -focus group argument more than once, only to lose it every time. Maybe it came down to ego. I never thought that a group of well-meaning readers could tell me more about my business than a person with a backache could tell a doctor how to treat it. Such special, if never perfect, knowleddge of our trade is why we showed up for work in the news room each day rather than at the local bank or shoe store.
Besides, the focus group's advice was largely anecdotal and we had heard it all many times before: too much bad news , biased political coverage, the paper wasn't always delivered to your doorstep on time, etc. etc. etc. Editors thought it best to hear these complaints at intervals to persuade our invited handfuls of guests that we really cared about what they wanted, even when they often disagreed among themselves about what it was that we should be doing to satisfy them. Largely, it was a feel-good approach with fleeting benefits.
The only daily clue to a newspaper's mission lies in its first four letters: news.. Today the media don't need a focus group to remind anybody that as the papers shrink so do the number of news room employees who are supposed to cover the news. It is a dead-end practice that no focus group can change. Unfortunately there is no Steve Jobs around to be of any help.