Why are Apple keynotes no longer hitting the right notes?

“The half-life of excitement levels surrounding Apple events is now measured in minutes,” Gary Cutlack writes for TechRadar. “People go from joyous sobbing to complete disinterest in the time it takes to compose and edit a cynical tweet.”

“The latest Apple launch followed the format we’ve come to know and expect of big technology showcases, with months of leaks telling us exactly what to expect, before, about three minutes after the event, the world shrugs and gets on with its business,” Cutlack writes. “This week saw Apple use its latest gathering to reveal the new, slightly thinner iPad Air, about which Apple seemed most keen to talk about the reduction in bezel size. Men in shirts also droned on about Haswell-powered MacBook Pros, plus, in a pretty brave move for the money-loving tech giant, it announced plans to take its Garageband music software into the ‘freemium’ world and release the actually-really-free OS X Mavericks update.”

Cutlack writes, “But, after the usual bit of teatime live-tweeting excitement, everyone soon got back to discussing more important matters, like when Kyle and Gavin’s GarageBand album will be released. Apple hardware may still sell like the clappers to the mainstream buyer, but the cynical internet population seems to be over its Apple keynote obsession.”

Cutlack writes, “And as tends to happen when people dissect Apple’s present-day performances, the workmanlike nature of the streamed presentation naturally had many yearning for some hot Steve action. DavGreg summarised the Jobs-for-sainthood feeling with his comment: ‘The millionaires we saw on stage the other day are all smart guys with many talents, but I think not one has the fire in the belly and clarity of vision of Steve Jobs.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Let’s face it, Tim Cook has all the stage presence of a cardboard cutout.

As we’ve written many times before:

Tim Cook should seriously consider trying to convincing Jony Ive do Apple’s keynote presentations or, at the very least, participate in a significant fashion (live, not via video).

We know Jony can perform live and he’s mesmerizing when he does.

Have Jony onstage during Apple events and all of these silly “Where’s the excitement?”, “Should Tim Cook remain as Apple CEO?” and “Where are Apple’s innovations?” questions will evaporate immediately. Cook would be Apple CEO for as long as he wished. Where Apple is currently missing Steve Jobs the most is in the charisma department on-stage.

Failing that, pile on the Federighi; at least we can have a few laughs instead of just constantly missing Steve.

92 Comments

      1. Was it just me, or did nearly all of them seem to stumble over their lines? Come on Apple, where is the usual polish? This seemed thrown together at the last minute.

          1. Aah but memories are always selectively better than the present reality. Give it a few years and they will be complaining that Cook isn’t turning water into wine or at least walking on water he isn’t turning into wine because we all remember Steve doing both.

    1. I agree. I think it was a great Keynote.

      The issue isn’t with Apple, the people working at Apple or the Keynote. The issue is all the leaks in the supply channel.

      1. Tim Cook did say that Apple was doubling-down on security at that conference (D11?), but we’ve seen more leaks.

        It was a crazy media frenzy when that guy lost his iPhone 4 in a bar in 2010, but now, some blogs collect enough parts to assemble and boot the next-gen iPhone before it’s released! Where’s the prosecution? They must not be prosecuted, or that would strike fear into workers to not steal and sell parts.

        Stealing parts is one thing; bloggers will report about it and take pictures. Who knows what else is making it’s way out the door, possibly to competitors.

        I could be wrong. Maybe Apple is working diligently on security, but I see evidence to the contrary.

    2. The problem I have with this article is that it tries to pass of ignorance as wisdom. This guy apparently doesn’t understand and can’t see the significance of many of Apple’s advances, like catching everyone else flat footed with the A7, M7, and 64 bit processing. Perhaps Apple could hold this guys attention if they had introduced a desktop tower in a metal flake case with flashing LEDs. Trying to pass off cluelessness as jaded cynicism and superiority seems to be the style of a certain generation these days, but it gets old really fast.

      1. Yeah, where are the flying cars and cheap jet packs….cause everyone else says they are doing that next month. So Apple should be doing it now!!!!!!! Right????

        The presentation was very good. Not their best but good. The products were great… Insanely great….lol

        The nay Sayers cannot do it but the feel fine with bitching about Apple. I say “Where’ the beef!!!!

        1. We’ll see later today how good the keynote and products were when Apple releases earnings and guidance for next quarter. I’m expecting very good numbers on both sides.

    3. Face it, the presentations are, from a stock price perspective, irrelevant. The media and analists focus on the products and the “Wow!!!!!!!! factor – or lack thereof. Since SJ, there really is no inherently sustainable excitement anymore because the medium was the message.

      As far as I’m concerned, from a shareholder perspective, is whether the new products sell a buttload. The chattering heads will prattle pro or con prior to and after the presentations, but ultimately, the proof is in the quarterly report pudding:

      “SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!!
      (apologies for the McGuire ripoff 😉 )

    4. This is indeed a sad day. A year and a half ago I was talked into moving to Macbook pro because, as I was encouraged, Apple is better. I spend $3200 on a top of the line MBP Retina. I have been very disappointed by the insipid software offered by Apple. After using Keynote and Pages for a few months, I finally had to move back to MS Word, and would have done the same with Keynote to Powerpoint, buy my Retina MBP will not run Powerpoint properly because of some Retina glich. Waiting and expecting a nice upgrade to solve all my problems, now Apple has completely gone backward and broken iWork even worse then before. I have one and a half years left on my Applecare, and even now I am looking forward to returning to Windows.

      1. … with MS Word in many Enterprise-level situations. Apple only provided a quarter of the “features” offered in Word, but they provided the quarter that 99% of the non-Enterprise users ever use. If you are fixated on using those functions that cannot be found elsewhere – because you CAN – you should stay in the MS Word realm.
        As for Keynote … you think PowerPoint has something better to offer? You DO know that people quickly recognize a PP slideshow, right? That it triggers their sleep-or-flee reflex? It isn’t Apple’s fault that MSFT has not, in a year-and-a-half, fixed the problems you see with PP on your MBP. It’s MSFT, and it’s that they just don’t CARE. Nor should you.
        Apple has “broken iWork”? I’ve used Pages … it is different, but not “broken”. I’ve used Numbers … it is different, but not “broken”. Both did everything I asked. I don’t use Keynote. I’m retired.
        That you bought three years worn of Applecare says you are firmly embedded in the Windows world – Apple products are annoying that they refuse to break in time for you to buy a new toy. Go back to Windows and feel comfortable there. And stop trolling Mac sites.

      2. And why haven’t you installed MS Office on your MBP? You’ll find that any problems you encounter with MS Office for OS X are the fault of Microsoft’s inattention to, or outright sabotage of their product for OS X. Until I recently retired I was a systems administrator on a hybrid proprietary data collection system, using Unix and Windows servers, with web based client applications. I often prepared performance and error analysis that required the use of Excel pivot tables and very complicated sorting routines. MS Office for Mac will not perform those functions for me. Why? Because Microsoft either doesn’t care, or actively doesn’t want them to work. The other problems you are experiencing with Microsoft on Macs is a result of the same mechanism. My belief is that MS purposely cripples the OS X version of its products. It also purposely morphs to introduce incompatibility every time Apple achieves compatibility with iWork and MS Office.

        There are two things I wish Apple would do:

        1. Massively upgrade iWork to start taking Microsoft’s core business away from them.

        2. Introduce its own search engine to compete with Google and make it not only the default, but integral with OS X.

    5. The one thing someone could do for Cook–and most of the Apple management team–is give him a series of diction classes where the words “amazing” and “incredible” are banned from use. As is, their ceaseless repetition has a dull thud effect and not the Batman “WOW!” “BAM! hyperbole that they seek to produce.

  1. In total agreement MDN. At the very least get Jony up there for a segment or two. I didn’t find this keynote as dull as the last few, Craig & Phil are pretty entertaining and it was nice that they had lots of stage time. However, Eddie cue should to be on stage or that other guy who demoed iWork….
    How about this plan:
    Tim says hello, then hands all software off to Craig and demos, then bring Phil on for pricing, then Have Jony do the product introductions. It’s simpler, and he would bring the gravitas that seems to be missing since Steve is no longer there.

    1. I disagree about bringing Jony on stage. Yes, he is a powerful speaker, but once that threshold is crossed, he’d need to maintain a certain public expectation for every keynote, and that’s just not his place at Apple. He’s a behind-the-scenes get-things-done guy with a ton of more important responsibilities on his plate than entertaining folks like us on stage.

      1. MDN is on the right track.Apple needs to do something with their presentations. I think you and “voice” are both correct also. Find someone or a couple of someone’s to spice things up, but in the end you really don’t want Jony doing them. Presentation of a product matters. Greatly. Snippets of these presentations are on the news and many other television programs. They are anything but dynamic. This has nothing to do with Tim Cook being the CEO. Has nothing to do with him doing a good job or a bad job. This isn’t about putting lipstick on a pig and trying to sell it. This is simply about making a presentation more exciting. We have all been to presentations and meetings that were boring and others that were very interesting. You don’t remember the boring presentations. These presentations are and never were about the Apple faithful in the audience. Steve Jobs was speaking to everyone else that wasn’t there. He knew the people in the audience would follow. This presentation was okay. But okay isn’t good enough. This is Apple and they are selling great stuff. But if we all realize that the presentations are lacking, certainly Apple can see it too. it doesn’t need to be a circus like atmosphere but improvement is certainly needed.

      1. I was thinking similarly – maybe not Tina and Amy though. But maybe it’s time to bring in a paid spokesperson who MC’s the event and has a better stage presence than Tim. You didn’t need a MC when Steve was with us, he was the best Apple spokesperson, and a fantastic presenter. You couldn’t find a better MC at the time for an Apple Event. Tim isn’t the right MC for these things – time to find someone else, and maybe paying someone is the right move.

    2. My speculation is that Ive doesn’t want to do the Keynotes. It could be that Cook is unreasonably keeping Ive from getting onstage, but I just find that hard to believe.

  2. Problem with the keynotes is that the surprise fact is gone. With all the leaks we know what is coming ahead of time. The big surprise at this keynotes was the new naming of the iPad Air and that the Retina display mini keep the 10 hour battery with life with a price increase. Most people watch the keynote to find what day they can buy the product that they know is coming already. Apple has to find a way to keep their secrets so they can surprise us.

        1. Yes, it would be hard to use Steve’s “One more thing…” without Steve.

          Obviously the answer is for Holo-Steve to walk onto the stage just as Tim Cook winding up a keynote, and say “Hold on a minute, I have one more thing for everyone…”. Everyone freaks out!

          Steve first walks through the history of monitors right up to the new Apple 4K versions, but then says he has realized the monitors are the old way and its time for something completely different. Then Steve proceeds to announce the new Mac Pro 3D Retina Motion Headset with a Retina level, full peripheral vision, all direction visual reality wearable dual-displays. He introduces xOS 1.0, the new virtual reality version of OS X, and walks through demos of working in a completely limitless 3D environment while sitting on a couch, using gestures and a keyboard on his lap that visually appears in the virtual world when it detects his fingers on it.

          He turns things over temporarily for a demo of “Infinity Blade Infinity”, the leaves the stage while Holo-John Lennon drives the already raving crowd into complete insanity.

    1. Even Apple is pre-announcing products more, but the world is moving too fast for such excitement to burn for long. People don’t want to wait. The “available today” announcements were great on keynote date, but but the “coming soon” announcements were a shame.

  3. This is just ass-hattery.
    There is nothing wrong with the keynotes it’s just a lack of surprises.
    And putting Ive on stage? Are you kidding me? The guys designs some beautiful stuff but he would have the stage presence of a rock. The audience would be asleep within five minutes!

    1. “…the stage presence of a rock…” is perhaps a little overstated, but I agree that Ive is not a natural presenter. In fairness to him, I think he knows this, and that’s why he keeps out of the way.

      Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs, but he doesn’t try to be either. To me, his presentation style, and his overall stage presence, have improved markedly since his first effort several years ago.

      One thing I did note though was that the autocue system appeared to trip up a several of the presenters, giving the appearance of hesitancy. Maybe some more polish needed there (or dig Steve’s flame thrower out of the cupboard).

      1. Aside from the tribute he paid to his friend Steve jobs at the memorial service, please give me a single live example that backs up your claim. You can’t. Jony Ive is horrible at making live presentations and MDM’s constant recommendation on this subject is insanely stupid.

  4. I guess all of the moronic whiners would be happier if Apple’s presentations were more like those of Microsoft, where absolutely nothing works and you have the charisma of Bill Gates or the brilliance of Steve Ballmer. You clowns want to be entertained then haul your ass to a Broadway musical.

  5. What if there is a problem with live demos for Jony? I mean stage freight? Some unknown stammer?

    How about he is as keen on producing the best public image as products? A live go at it, is not something he wants to risk.

  6. Why was Phil Schiller so nervous this time?

    Also, I could not disagree with MDN’s take more. Jony is not a natural presenter, and his Britishness, combined with the preciousness of his subject matter make him appear pompous–that’s the last image Apple needs to project.

    1. I think the stakes are higher than ever and so Phil may have reflected that about having a perfect product introduction event. His impromptu “Don’t know how to innovate my ass!” last time bought Phil a lot of positive vibe.

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