The Apple Presentation

I’m more excited about software.

Today Apple introduced new iPad Pros, a new small iMac with the M1 processor, a new Apple TV…but the highlight was the footage from the new season of “Ted Lasso”…

“I never met someone who don’t eat sugar, only heard about ’em, they all live in this godless place called Santa Monica.”

I laughed out loud. Inside humor is still the best, which SNL used to specialize in before it went so broad as to be nearly slapstick. It’s hard to go into the nooks and crannies today, very few get the joke, but that’s where the bonding occurs. I was never a fan of Jason Sudeikis, but “Ted Lasso” made me one, and that line re sugar just bonded me to him more.

This was not the Steve Jobs presentation of yore, it was not live, but pre-produced, at a Hollywood level. There was even a superhero segment, akin to “Topkapi,” but for the small screen. I guess this is what today’s audience wants, nothing too deep, not that this Apple presentation wasn’t woke.

If you stayed until the end, there was a cornucopia of disclaimers re Covid protocols. They used to be de rigueur, but now they’re political, with so many re-entering society, sans masks, willy-nilly. It always works out the same way, the educated benefit. Yes, you can refrain from getting a vaccine for fear of…well, nothing. You can go out without a mask. But the joke is on you. As for you interacting with the rest of us, hmm…that’s what we’re debating right now, your ability to be free to infect the rest of us, can’t say I agree with that, that’s not my idea of freedom.

So, Steve Jobs had gravitas, he was a rock star delivering his new show, with production, building to the great reveal at the end of “One more thing…” But that paradigm died with Steve, as well as the Apple philosophy of keep it simple stupid. Today Apple offers so many products in so many iterations it’s mind-blowing. Amazing how one person can affect the culture so dramatically. Those were key elements of Apple, the minimalist design and the ease in buying. Now, you’ve got to study up before you purchase. And what are you gonna purchase?

You need those new tags, that work via FindMy. Come on, you know you do. To be able to find your keys via your phone? Think of what you can attach tags to… They’re vastly overpriced, yet still cheap, so they will be the new AirPods. Yes, in a world of software, where everything is on demand and we own little, never underestimate the power of these little signifiers. You want to go to the restaurant, assuming we can safely do so, and lay your keys with their Apple tag on the table. Which is why so many wankers bought AirPods, they were less concerned with the sound than the look.

As for a purple iPhone… Am I the only one who doesn’t get iPhone colors? I mean you put it in a case…

But iMac colors, those were cool, we haven’t had that spirit here since…1998, when the first candy-colored iMacs were released. The inventory controls? Ugh! Then again, this is testimony to how many they sell. As for improvements, the M1 processor is a big deal, the instant on if nothing else. And the ability to shrink the innards and increase screen size all in an extremely thin package is amazing, but doesn’t anybody who really cares about sound use external speakers?

The iPad Pro… They keep telling us it’s a desktop replacement, but I don’t know anybody who uses it this way. As for the Pro designation, if you watched this presentation you realized…you were not going to use most of its capabilities, this is one product truly for pros.

The new Apple TV? Overpriced. Everyone says to get a Roku instead. Roku’s business model is different, you get the device in people’s hands, and then Roku gets paid by the channels, even building its own channel. Apple is losing the market share race, and that is important, it’s all about critical mass, and Apple is losing it, some items are commodities and some are not, a TV streaming box is one, nearly fungible, you can get essentially everything you want for fifty bucks from Amazon or Roku, why spend four times the amount for an Apple device? Apple is blowing it with TV like Amazon blew it with the Fire phone. However, there was one cool feature, the ability to calibrate your screen, i.e. software. I mean it’s like magic. You hold your iPhone up to your TV and the image is instantly adjusted. This is a breakthrough, however one few people will experience.

As for the talent…

Apple seems to be able to do what Hollywood just talks about. There was a plethora of female presenters. They are stars in their own right. However, the more you saw them the more you scratched your head and wondered…how come there isn’t a woman with a Senior VP title? As for people of color, the man in the dāstar with the South Asian name… Apple is the MTV of yore. Yes, younger generations in the late twentieth century learned on MTV that we were all equal, people of color, races…in most cases they could be equally insane! Now Apple is leading the charge… Its presenters look like America.

As for music…it wasn’t an element. There was a closing ditty that was kind of catchy, but is that the main criterion now, mindless catchiness? You see Apple doesn’t need music. If anything, it’s been burned by the music business. As in the Jimmy Iovine/U2 debacle. But the funny thing is there’s no act with the gravitas, appeal and reach of U2 which could fill the band’s shoes today. And the world has evolved, the truth is the baby boomers no longer own it. They’re trying to rule it, but they don’t own it. You looked at the people in the presentation and you realized…they’re the children of the baby boomers, with different mores and wants.

Oh  yeah, there was an incomprehensible introduction of paid podcasts, but the truth will dribble out in the press. As for Tim Cook’s claim that you could support your favorite creator…that’s kind of rich. The guy makes tens of millions and he’s talking about creative people making pennies. As for Spotify’s tip jar, that’s an insult, whoever came up with that should be shot. If the act is not making enough on the platform to ask people to donate is just heinous, either pay creators more or shut up.

But the techies are bad with creativity. They don’t understand the ethos. Then again, for far too long the ethos of the creators has fallen in line with those of the techies. Artists are not about the money, certainly not first, they’re about the message. And prior to this century everybody knew in the creative arts only a few could support themselves, come on, it was a cliché, no parent wanted their child to be an artist. But today, with the low barrier to entry on Spotify and other platforms everybody believes they’re an artist and entitled to make a living. Who says? The business people know there is no free lunch, how come the artists don’t? And instead of complaining they should speak truth to power and then money would rain down. Isn’t it fascinating, with all the bitching about streaming payments, nobody, and I mean NOBODY, ever talks about the art, it’s about the money and nothing else. But that’s America today, where everybody feels entitled to be rich and famous, where everybody believes their failures are someone else’s fault, where everybody is looking for someone to save them when the truth is no one will.

Then again, the boomers want no change. And one thing is for sure…this presentation was all about change, pushing the envelope. If you jetted back twenty years and watched this you’d be positively stunned, you’d be drooling, but that’s how far we’ve come, so quickly, we’re no longer wowed, we expect these advancements.

But irrelevant of the products, this presentation was a triumph of marketing, a commercial in a world no one wants to watch an ad. You felt like you were getting a peak inside, if anything you wanted to work inside.

But the truth is the real power is now in the software. We need our gadgets, but our excitement over them waned years ago. The hardware is just the platform, what does the software allow us to do?

And the truth is the software is the layer between Apple and us, whether it be Big Sur or Facebook or Spotify or… This is our responsibility, this is our challenge, this is what we can do…take all these tools and create greatness. Either do that or get out of the channel, it’s too crowded already.

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