The Apple Launch That Wasn't


If you’ve never been to an Apple launch event, you’ve missed a jaw-dropping ritual of Silicon Valley life: Thousands of ‘Macolytes’ packed into a huge auditorium, along with hundreds of members of the press, speaking every language on the planet, and carrying every type of digital camera, laptop, etc.
All to hear Steve Jobs talk a little about about Apple’s revenue stream, demo some new gadget, and then … the ritualized cue:  “Oh . . .and one more thing.”  The iPhone, iPod, a new iMac, a Bono jam session — it is always something amazing, and more often then not, what follows those words make cultural history.  It’s a wonderful slice of Valley life that makes you realize just how much people outside our little bubble of entrepreneurial technology love to peek in.
The latest Apple launch, which took place yesterday, had none of the old razzle-dazzle.  Indeed, it is likely to go down in history as the quietest Apple product introduction ever.  For the first time in recent memory, Apple released new products — and the earth didn’t move on its axis, and satellites in space pretty much stayed on course. 

Apple announced that its desktop flagship, the 24 inch iMac, now has double the memory, double the storage, and, in a nod to the recession, costs less than $1,500.  A new Mac Pro has been unleashed, for $300 less than the previous model.  There’s also a new Mac Mini, complete with a faster graphics processor.
All this, with no fanfare.  No press conference, no big demo, no Mac-Arena filled with cheering faithful, and no rock concert to wrap things up.  Why?  Easy:  no Steve Jobs.  
With Jobs sidelined on medical leave, it’s clear that Apple is just a company.  A good one, that cranks out solid products that people love.  But an Apple rollout event? ..  that’s all about Steve Jobs.  We’ve come to expect, even rely upon, the black turtleneck and blue jeans in the same way as we used to rely on hot chocolate after a tough day at school, or pizza in the dorms after finals.  To see Jobs prowl the stage with the prayer-like hand gesture, is to know that things are OK in the tech world.  He alone is forgiven for being flashy about what other companies must do with a mere press release.  New Dell computer?  Read about it.  New iMac?  I’m gonna drive ninety minutes to watch KT Tunstall try it out.
Except this time.  Jobs is on medical leave, and the Nasdaq is scraping decade-long lows.  Both need time to heal.  But, I still have faith in the Nasdaq, and I’m looking forward to another Steve Jobs performance, complete with Sarah McLachlan serenade, or John Mayer jam session.  I’m even willing to share it with ten thousand fellow techies and reporters.   Let’s hope we see the return of both . . .soon.


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