A couple of weeks ago, I came across this interesting essay which articulates everything I’ve pondered since 5th of October, 2011. I’ve pasted it in its entirety below.
If you felt uneasy through Apple’s keynote yesterday, you’re not alone. Something felt off. It wasn’t the features or hardware but the messaging.
”Bigger than bigger” was the tagline. When you hear it, you feel the cold, impersonal march of advancing technology. There’s a mechanical feel like touching a cold pane of steel.
What we want from Apple isn’t new technology. We want human warmth—a possibility of living a more fulfilled, meaningful life.
Let’s review parts of the keynote that felt weak and see if Steve can make it shine.
The keynote starts with a real-life Prezi presentation with little substance. The most damning line comes near the beginning:
People had an implicit understanding of this idea, but assuring people that ”It’s not about being first, but being ’first with meaning'” reeks of being defensive.
Even with companies we respect confidence—not insecurity. A Jobsian Apple would have never said something so weak.
There should have been one obvious, visceral reason to buy an iPhone 6.
A larger screen size alone is a weak proposition for the company’s flagship product. It’s derivative of existing products and doesn’t say anything differentiated from its competition.
The fact that it also contradicts Steve Jobs’ original intent for the iPhone, ”No one is going to buy a big phone”, squelches the voice of the product and makes it come across muddled and confused.
The trouble now is that the iPhone 6 must depend on its host of secondary features to make the sale:
- ”Better” in every way. Anonymous improvements under the hood.
- Apple Pay. A NFC-based payment system.
- Health features integrated into iOS 8.
- A better camera
Apple: We have the perfect product that does X.
You: OH MY GOD, I NEED THIS.
Apple: We have a product that does X, Y, Z and also A and B.
You: Hmm, I guess I see how X might be useful. A and B are pretty cool too.
This happens when product creators play it safe. There’s a chance the single X might be wrong. The obvious solution is to be add enough features until there’s Something for Everyone.
With Steve Jobs, there was no fear. There was an unassailable, almost divine level of confidence that he had something you will love. We had a crisp, singular exactness to why we’ll be marching to the Apple Store after the keynote and buying that phone.
Messy. Too many options. This is such a huge blunder.
Instead of a single, perfect product, we got a jumble of features and choices. There should have been just The One that people call ”The Jesus Watch” like the second coming.
It’s easy to fall in love with The One.
The iPod launched with The One. The iPhone launched with The One. The Apple Watch launched with The Sixty.
It’s hard enough to craft desire for a single identity. When asked to think of an Apple Watch, people don’t know what to picture. Can you imagine if the original iPhone in 2007 came with sixty customizable skins?
With The One, it would have been just one iconic watch face. One gorgeous wrist band. When someone mentioned Apple Watch, you would immediately visualize a very specific look.
It’s like picking your future husband or wife from a pool of sixty. Sixty different personalities, hobbies, quirks to learn. Sixty different people to fall in love with, compounded with the anxiety you might choose wrong.
You’d much rather have just the one. The Perfect One that you know is the best.
What I fear most is that the keynote tainted the watch category as a whole. There was one fundamental question that had to be answered: Why do I need it?
The presentation jumped straight into an introduction video and the resounding message was, ”The Apple watch is beautiful and personal.”
All you could do is sit there and ask, ”Yeah, that’s cool, but why?”
Instead of ”this cool new gadget”, the narrative should have been: ”an obvious interface that had been lacking”.
The prevailing impression now is that it’s a gadget for tech geeks. This may be salvageable in the future, much like the iPad gradually grew into its currently accepted form, but it’s certainly no iPhone launch.
Apple introducing the watch as ”The most personal device ever” doesn’t make it personal. Like love, it should be something your feel, not something you have to say out loud.
Side note: I’m not a fan of Apple using its iconic Apple logo in its product names. It dilutes The Apple. The Apple needs to stand alone in its full, innovative, storied glory, not hampered by taglines and definitely not alongside any single product name.
Here are the names of revolutionary personal devices: iPod, iPhone, iPad and now the iWatch.
iWatch would have been the right call.
Steve Jobs’ Keynote
Without further ado, let’s join Steve Jobs as he introduces the new iPhone and the rumored new wearable.
Apple Special Event – Flint Center, 10 AM September 9, 2014
(Doors open and crowd filters in)
(Ambient crowd noise)
(Loud cheering and applause as Steve walks on stage)
Steve Jobs: Hey, thanks for coming. (Loud applause) It’s great to see you today. I’m glad you could be here. (Cheers)
I have some very special things I’d like to share with you today. (Steve smiles)
Jobs: A few things first. We have sold our 25 millionth iPen yesterday. (Applause)
500,000,000 notes–half a billion notes–have been created since we launched.
Half a billion original thoughts safely stored on iCloud.
Half a billion new ideas to change the world. (Loud applause)
Jobs: It’s not easy being an engineer at Apple. (Laughs) How do you take the world’s best phone and make it even better? (Cheers)
When we first launched the iPhone back in 2007, we didn’t anticipate the central role it plays today–how it would touch every part of our lives. (Cheers)
Seven years later, our iPhones are the window to our world. Through this window I see my wife and kids. I see my friends, take care of work, and relax.
If this window is so important, what if we made it a little bigger?
(Steve holds out his hand and starts separating his fingers as if he’s stretching an iPhone)
(Once they get really far, he grins and quickly pushes them back together)
Jobs: But not too big! (Audience chuckles) You still want to be able to hold it in one hand and fit it inside your pocket.
Our team of smart engineers have come up with the perfect size.
(Steve holds out his left hand)
Jobs: It turns out the average adult’s thumb is 4.4 inches long. With a 4.5 inch screen, you can touch 95% of the screen with your thumb with minimal stretching.
We feel good about that number. 4.5 inches. Our iPhone 5 is currently 4 inches. Let’s take a look at what that extra half an inch gives us.
Jobs: That half an inch means a 40% bigger screen. (Applause) 40% more space for movies. 40% more space for photos. Most importantly, holding it in my hand feels just right.
Here at Apple, we don’t care what others say. We care about getting it right. It took us a few tries, but we’ve nailed it. The perfect screen size.
I’d like to show you the new iPhone now. (Cheers)
Jobs: Here it is–your new iPhone. Look at that. Just gorgeous. It’s the iPhone you love and it’s all grown up.
It comes in just one size–the perfect size.
Jobs: It has such sleek lines, it makes owners of Ferrari’s jealous. (Laughter)
Let’s take it for a spin.
(A scene from Guardians of the Galaxy starts playing)
Jobs: Look at that. Just look at that. Incredible. You’ll wonder how you ever lived without that extra half an inch. The colors look so alive.
(Steve makes a happy grin. Audience chuckles)
Jobs: It’s the coolest half an inch you’ll find anywhere in the world. The best part? Look at my thumbs. I can easily touch the edges of the screen with no problem.
Let’s take a look at photos.
Jobs: You wouldn’t believe how much of a difference half an inch makes. When I look through my photos, the details look so crisp.
When I open up a website on Safari, I don’t have to strain my eyes anymore. It’s a joy to swipe and fly through the web.
Jobs: That’s the new iPhone. (Applause)
Our iPhones are the window to our world and the iPhone 6 is the perfectly sized window. It’s available for purchase starting today. (Cheers)
You can drive straight to the Apple store and have one by tonight. (Louder cheers)
(Steve starts to leave the stage and reaches the edge before turning around)
(Uproar as slide appears on screen)
Jobs: Oh, and one more thing. (Crowd goes wild)
This stage holds a special place in my heart. Did you know this is the exact stage I introduced the original Macintosh? (Cheers)
Jobs: Jeez, look at that head of hair. (Laughter)
Fifteen years later, it was where Apple was reborn with the iMac. (Cheers)
Jobs: Each time we presented on this stage, it marked the start of a new, remarkable era for Apple.
It’s no coincidence we’re here today. (Cheers) There’s a reason why we paid a little extra and booked this place. (Laughter)
(Steve tears up)
Jobs: Apple started as a personal computer company. We brought you the Macintosh, the iMac, and the MacBook Pro. We mastered computers and realized we could do more. (Cheers)
We realized we could use our design to build great devices.
Apple then became a personal device company. We brought you the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. We mastered devices and realized we could do more. (Louder cheers)
We realized we could use our design to build great experiences. (Crescendo in cheers)
Today marks the day Apple becomes the personal universe company. (Auditorium is deafening)
Starting today, Apple will bring its magic to other important parts of your life. The world-class design you’ve come to expect you can look forward to during more parts of your day. (Cheers)
We are introducing three, three new products today to kick off Apple Universal. (Crowd roars)
Jobs: We always thought it was silly to carry around a phone and a wallet. Why carry around two when you can carry around one? (Laughter)
Our first innovation of Apple Universal was to get rid of your wallet. (Cheers)
We’re calling it: Apple Pay. Here’s what it looks like.
Jobs: Couldn’t be simpler. It works just the way you expect it to. No instructions needed. (Applause)
You take a photo of your credit card and it’s saved securely on your phone. When you need to pay something, you hold it next to the register and use your fingerprint to authenticate.
Boom. Done. (Applause)
We’re launching with these wonderful partners to start:
Jobs: Hundreds more on the way before 2015. Imagine that. You can walk into thousands of stores and pay with just a tap.
You can now use that extra pocket to carry around something more important. Like a backup iPhone. (Audience chuckles)
Next, we’ve found that developers have been using the iPhone’s powerful sensors to keep track of something very important to all of us. Our health.
(Steve clears throat)
Jobs: Here at Apple, we decided this was a very important endeavor and dedicated our second universal product to health. (Applause)
We’re calling it Apple Health. Here’s what it looks like.
Jobs: Your iPhone will now keep track of your calories, your weight and your heart rate. Cool, huh? (Applause)
You can check your progress for a week, a month and a year. You can see yourself becoming healthier and healthier as you work towards your goals.
For developers, don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten you. Your apps will be able to talk to Apple Health directly.
This means your favorite fitness apps like Runkeeper will be able to keep your health profile up-to-date.
Most importantly, all your data is secured on your iPhone. No one else has access to it except you. (Applause)
So that’s Apple Health.
Jobs: We’ve saved the best for last. (Steve smiles) And boy, is it exciting. (Laughter)
You ready for this? (Someone in the audience shouts ”YEAH!” audience laughs)
Jobs: When you think about it, the iPhone turned your fingers into the most powerful tools in the universe.
(Steve points at his fingers)
Jobs: With a swipe, you can place a order for something halfway across the globe. (Steve makes a swiping gesture)
With a tap, you can see a video of your loved ones across the country. (Steve makes a tapping gesture)
With a shake, you can listen to the entirety of human recorded music. (Steve makes a shaking gesture)
Well, we’re about to do it again. (Cheers)
We’re going to make another body part of yours just as powerful. Your wrist. (Cheering volume rising)
Jobs: What’s more natural than a glance? Look at your wrist right now. That’s right. (Audience chuckles) Look down and then look up. How long did that take? Half a second?
It’s the most natural thing in the world. To look at your wrist.
Who fumbles around in their pockets? People who are disorganized. People with time to spare.
Me? I don’t have time for that. (Laughter)
With this new product, you won’t have to. (Steve glances at his wrist)That’s it. No more fumbling. Just glance. That’s it.
Are you getting this? Do you get it? (Cheering rises)
Today, Apple reinvents the watch. We’re calling it: iWatch. Here’s what it looks like:
(Cheering reaches fever pitch and crowd goes nuts)
Jobs: Parents say they don’t have favorites. They lied. (Loud laughter) I think this is the most gorgeous product we have ever made. Just look at that. Beautiful. Flawless.
It comes in just one model. Stainless steel. It’s the sleekest watch you have ever seen in your life.
When people see it from a mile away, they’ll be asking about it. Here’s another shot.
Jobs: Still takes my breath away each time I see it. It’s even better in person.
(Steve pulls out an iWatch from his pocket and straps it on his wrist. Audience ooh’s)
When it’s on your wrist, you can’t stop looking at it. (Steve stares at his watch and audience laughs)
There’s just the right amount of weight that makes it feel incredible.
Jobs: It’s a joy to use. Those other guys who have tried to do watches lazily copied the iPhone interface. (Laughter) Not us.
We invented something called the Digital Crown. You see this circular dial here?
(Steve points at crown)
Jobs: It has a very satisfying click when you twist it. You use this dial to scroll on your watch.
Your fingers don’t cover up the screen anymore. Neat, huh? (Cheers)
What happens when you press it? You got it, takes you right to the home screen. (Loud cheers)
You already know how to use an iWatch.
Jobs: Your first day with the iWatch is extraordinary.
Got a text? (Steve glances down at his wrist) Boom. Done.
Want to listen to the next song? (Steve swipes his wrist) Boom. Done.
You’ll wonder how you lived life before the iWatch. Life seems to move a little faster when you don’t have to fumble in your pockets.
Jobs: The iWatch comes with a special sensor that detects your heartbeat. In addition to linking to Apple Health, it does something very special.
Something very dear to me.
I’d like to see how my daughter is doing. Instead of sending her a text, what can I do? I press this button twice, and… (Heartbeats echo in the auditorium)
You can’t see it, but my watch is vibrating to her heartbeat. I can close my eyes and know that my daughter is alive, living her life halfway around the globe.
Jobs: I feel her pulse against mine.
This is what technology is for. It’s not about megapixels. It’s not about having the largest screen size. It’s about knowing there are people who care about you in this world.
The iWatch is available immediately for purchase at your local Apple store or online at Apple.com.
Thank you for joining me today.
(Audience is in tears as they stand up and give a standing ovation)
(Steve exits the stage and event is over)
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