Do We Still Need These Tech Keynotes?

9/09/2014 Stephen Colbert 0 Comments


Apple has done some impressive things this year, but why do I feel so unimpressed?

It seems like the entire mobile industry has—since 2007—been trying to recapture that same magic of the launch of the first iPhone in 2007. The closest event was probably Google I/O when Google Glass was announced with Skydivers, but but it seems like—for the most part—these launch events are getting less and less impressive.

The problem is this: not much has changed since the first iPhone.   Don't get me wrong, we've obviously come a long way, but the first iPhone was was sparked this buzz word of "innovation." What we've gotten since then, though, is a lot of iteration.

These keynotes are starting to resemble an action movie franchise where every sequel has to have bigger effects, a way bigger marketing budget, and somehow raise the stakes from it's predecessor, but there's not much more to it.

Yeah, the iPhone 6 is awesome, iOS 8 is amazing, and the Apple Watch is brilliant, but we've seen all this before. It is actually doing a disservice to the product when the fanfare doesn't match the delivery.

What we are getting, is this:



When all we really need, is this:



The issue is likely the fact that the mobile industry is still so new. Look at product announcements for mature industries, like the auto industry. Sure, there's fanfare, but Volkswagen will look you in the eye and say "Hey, the 2015 Jetta is basically the 2014 Jetta, only we improved a few things!"

I groan at almost every launch event (not just Apple), where someone in a black turtleneck gets on stage and says "we can proudly say, this is the best phone we've made yet!" As if they were going to release a product inferior to last year's? The screen is bigger, the resolution is better, the materials are higher quality, the UI is improved, the App catalog has grown, the camera takes better pictures, and the screen is harder to break. What else do you want?

The same thing for the Apple Watch. It looks like a fine product, but it's not significantly differentiated from the deluge of wearables we've seen the past few months. When we see all sizes, shapes, and qualities of smart watches announced at IFA, Apple looks out of touch when they put so much effort into the launch of the Watch.

The second I saw a picture of the Apple Watch, I immediately compared it to the Moto 360 that is already on my wrist. If your competitors have similar products already shipping, you better either make the announcement a little less grand, or really have something to blow our faces off.  The Watch is about 3 months too late for the grandiosity of its announcement.

Enough negativity, though. I'm excited for the new iPhones, the Apple Watch, iOS8, and all the new Apple releases. Apple makes great products. My negativity is solely with the release announcements. If this is the type of presentation we can expect to continue to get from Apple, Google, Samsung, or whoever, then it won't even matter if the live stream fails, I'll just be waiting to read the spec sheet after the announcement.

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