In our last editorial adventure, we took a trip to Apple’s worship temple where Sauron’s Watch had everyone in a trance. Now that the big fruit has held a keynote event for their newest idol announcement, we will take another look at what Apple did to manufacture new success this time.
Keep in mind that the contents of this editorial are based on my opinion, and the presentation of my thoughts might be altered for fun’s sake. That being said, in case you haven’t, be sure to check our last incursions into the Apple Appeal phenomenon, including the Store of Oz and Sauron’s Watch.
The cat’s out of the bag, and now we know all about Apple’s newest iPhone. What has changed? In their words, not much except everything. Apple’s marketing machine was back in full force, this time to sell people more iThingies. I was hoping to see a change of direction from this big player, but alas, I was disappointed. Apple is competing in a bigger, fiercer market. At one point, they made the nicest hardware, hands-down. Since then, the rise of the affordable flagship brought with it high-quality in both build and internal hardware for much better prices, and many manufacturers managed to reinvent themselves to kindle their business.
This is a point that I think is pivotal to the underlying theme of this article, and I think it’s probably relevant to the disappointed stockholders too. Many were expecting a complete redesign of the iPhone 6, yet they are not getting that. Instead, Apple once again opted for small changes to the user experience. Some are genuinely interesting, but when they pitch the sale as “revolutionary”, it’s hard for anyone to hold a straight face.
I think there is genuine ingenuity in Apple’s new force touch, err, I mean, “3D Touch” implementations. In a previous feature, we mentioned that such a technology would be perfect when coupled with UI objects with depth and texture. Apple thought similarly, yet at the same time, we believe Apple might have played it up a little too much yet delivered too little and quite too early. This takes me to the main point of this article, and that is that when watching the latest keynote, I could almost feel Apple close to my ear, insisting that “it’s really cool… isn’t it? Isn’t it?”. We’ve known about Apple’s marketing ways for years, but this keynote was basically a parody of all of that.
Hipster Whale brings triple-A games to Apple’s new Wii.
Each segment of “gadget lust” being softly narrated by Jony Ive reeked of self-righteousness, as did many of their explicitly narcissistic claims. Do they really need to remind us that their team “worked very hard” on each and every feature? Quality should speak for itself, and if you are truly proud of your product, I believe stating it once should be enough validation. Get some self-esteem, Apple! And no matter how many times they say that their product is “the most advanced”, reality won’t change, because it doesn’t revolve around marketing.
“Ever”, “most popular”, “literally”, “far above”, “our best yet”, “the most advanced”, “the smallest we’ve made”, “it’s driven to innovate”, “no more product is more about this than ours”, “amazing”, “really awesome”,“just as profound”, “it changed the world”, and my favorite (and theirs), “it’s really cool”. While being bombarded with the carefully engineered script of the supposed Apple magic, my girlfriend sitting next to me stated “this guy is so annoying”. I promptly agreed, and then we kept listening to all the self-congratulatory speeches that Apple was giving out.
““If you see a stylus, they blew it.””
A few notable announcements came up, such as the Pencil — not a pen! A pencil! They stressed that out, of course, because they need their product to be seen as new, and not as just another S Pen. The iPad Pro itself was also one of the bigger ones, and to be honest, it looked quite good.
But once again, Apple went out of its way to spout specifications without any context for consumers to gasp at, without actually understanding what they mean.They obviously couldn’t pass the opportunity to shout that they have 5.6 million pixels on that thing’s screen, but PPI and comparisons were scarce. That is plenty of pixels indeed, yet do most consumers have any idea of how many pixels any screen has? Cue my mom.
Not 5 minutes after the event was over, I was bombarded with messages by my own mother, who was bewildered by the iPad Pro, and she cited the 5.6 million pixel number as a source of her amazement. I asked her if she knew how many pixels my computer had, or her phone had, and she didn’t. But the number stuck with her, just like they intended.
This is what surprises me about Apple keynotes, and the company’s culture in general. Their marketing is so powerful, yet at the same time, so predictable and so obviously structured. The presentation was replete with the kind of stuff you expect from Apple reveals: introductions where Apple tells you all about how, despite “having made the most advanced product in the world”, “they’ve really done it this time”, multiple happy-go-lucky and/or “profound” advertisements, lengthy segments of Jony Ive pretentiously narrating the beauty of the gadget in front of you, over and over, as it rotates with nature or space in the background.
Some of the things that they announced were legitimately cool, but whoever is on stage cannot help but say out loud that “it’s really cool”. Apple is great at directing consumer attention to the things they want them to see, and detract them from the ugly stuff. Of course they won’t talk about the reduced battery capacity of the 6S, but megapixels is a nice word, and now they have 12 of them. Yes, 12 megapixels, a truly inspirational advancement. So on and so forth.
“That’ll get like, a million likes!” – Apple
This company is what it is because of these and many, many other marketing tricks. I believe that if the Apple marketers sold something else, like shoes, they’d do a really great job, because they’ll still find a way to make customers feel like they need them. And stressing the word need is important here, because Apple has merged consumerism and fandom in a way that no other OEM has. From their small tricks at their stores to their myopic marketing statements, Apple has the average Joe in the bag. And when you factor in millennials and their behavioral traits, it’s easy to see why the company is so successful amongst younger generations as well.
To me, the keynote felt like another brilliant example of a self-congratulatory and pretentious presentation where Apple got on stage, once more, to remind us that they changed the world, that they worked really hard, and that their newest product is the most advanced thing anyone has ever made or will make (until the next keynote, of course). Android OEMs have been given a lot of flak for not redesigning themselves enough, and despite consumer pressure, Apple put out a predictably similar revision. It’s pretty obvious that they are aware of the expectations people had for this device when you see their campaign. “Not much has changed” and “except everything” are both partially true. Apple’s ways haven’t changed much in the past 4 years, but everything else around them has. With the upcoming wave of affordable phones hitting the market and other flagships beating iPhones where they once reigned, the landscape Apple has to compete in is drastically different. What I wonder is, will their upgrade programs be enough smoke and mirrors to hide their pricing disadvantage for long?
What did you think of their presentation and their upcoming products? Let us know!