Seemingly no one is noticing Apple events from a “show” perspective. I do like the products but it’s the theater and storytelling part that has always fascinated me. I wrote about my frustrations earlier. I am happy to oblige, though, that iPad/Mac event was amazing. It might be because unlike Sep event, we hardly knew anything specific about any of the products. But I am pretty sure that’s not all there was. To begin with, Tim Cook’s body language was completely different. He was responding to an enthusiastic New York crowd exceptionally well. “I am moving to New York”, there is no way you can write and practice this line in advance. It was spontaneous and showed the stage awareness Apple crew has been significantly lacking, or ignoring, recently.
The fun way he introduced Mac mini was just gold. It did help that following video was one of the best I have seen recently.
I was granted more than one wishes though. Phill Schiller didn’t come out on stage to tell us about any of the new hardware products — which has been the case ever since Steve left. To top that all the people filling in for him were fantastic. Laura introduced MacBook Air. And I thought she was amazing. Tom introducing Mac mini somehow toppled her. And Jon just nailed the iPad intro. All of them showed a personality that went well beyond the products they were talking about. Phil Schiller doing the background vocals for iPad video was nice too. It felt refreshing. In many ways, it reminded me of Scott Forstall. While Jony always talks about the products from a physical design journey perspective. It was Scott who used to talk about the product from a customer perspective. And I miss him for that. Phil Schiller filled in well though.
So what changed this time? Frankly, I don’t know. And there is no way to know this kind of stuff. Part of this has to do with the New York crowd. In many ways, they were the lead actors here. Part of it has to be the products themselves. MacBook Air, Mac mini and iPad are the underdog products in Apple lineup. And people love to cheer for the underdogs.
Perhaps the biggest reason I assume was the absence of iPhone. iPad and Mac remain a footnote from a financial perspective. So Apple seems to be more playful while talking about them. And a lot more pressured while talking about the iPhone. A missed iPad launch will probably not hurt that much. But a missed iPhone launch could devastate the company internally. None the less I really liked the event. If separating the event from the bigger one in September is what it takes for Apple to bring back their showmanship than I am happy to watch two in two months.