The day after an Apple Keynote is one for quiet reflection on and consolidation of the giddy announcements of the previous eve. The excitement of the moment, when you know that you are one of many many people focused inside the Reality Distortion Field, has gone. The energy pumping through your body while you process and relish new features, has faded. Left are the cold specs, pics on Apple’s webpages, the Keynote as podcast to enjoy, leisurely this time and lots to collectively digest in the blogosphere.
While watching the Keynote for a second time with my hubby tonight, I couldn’t help but admire Apple’s not so subtle message this time around. Last year, they took a bold mighty risk in launching the iPad, to much derision of the rest of the tech world (remember the sanitary napkins jokes anyone?) 15 million iPads sold later (and no, not just sell-in) the rest of the gang have launched, or are about to start shipping, their candidates, hoping to get a slice of the now potentially gigantic Tablet Economy pie.
But note the message of the wannabes. We’ve got these better-than-iPad killer features, we’ve got Flash, we’ll beat them in enterprise, we’ve got a smaller/bigger/better screen. Blah blah blah. Notice anything about these pitches? They think (and don’t Apple’s competitors always seem to think) it’s about the specs. That even explains why some observers were let down, citing a myriad of things Steve did NOT announce yesterday. No Thunderbolt, Retina Display, still no Flash.
Apple’s message is that it’s about people, possibilities, and creativity. After spending the 1st half hour matter-of-factly listing new specs and accessories, their focus switches. They show a video to show the past (almost) year in iPad, showing people around the world, from all walks of life, using the iPad to enrich their lives: teaching, reading, playing, learning, communicating. And no, it’s not all marketing. Have you ever put an iPad in the hands of a child? It’s not all marketing. It’s real.
The rest of the event was all apps. They demoed 4 new apps (Facetime, Photobooth, iMovie and Garageband) as if to say: can you film, edit and share a personal movie on a Playbook? Can you record song ideas, learn to play an instrument on a Xoom? Can you create fun video moments on a Galaxy Tab? This is where the battle will be fought. Apps will determine the future of the tablets. Will they spurn innovative uses for tablets in education, science, or communication? Or will they simply go down in history as also-rans?
Near the end of the Keynote, Steve Jobs spells it out, for those who still don’t get it:
“It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. That it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing. And nowhere is that more true than in these Post-PC devices. And a lot of folks in the tablet market are rushing in and they’re looking at this as the next PC. The hardware and the software are done by different companies. And they’re talking about speeds and feeds just like they did with PCs. And our experience in every bone in our bodies says that that is not the right approach to this. These Post-PC devices need to be even easier to use than a PC, that need to be more intuitive than a PC.”
This is what a lot of us respect in Apple. A company that works hard to improve lives with their devices. It’s part of their vision. They walk the walk, leaving the rest of the pack, as Steve put it, flummoxed.
Feel free to share your thoughts on Apple’s Keynote message in the comments.