Circle of life: The rise, fall, and rebirth of every Apple product on the Internet

in General Discussion edited August 19
In the short term, you could use this as a cut-out-and-keep guide to Apple products. In the much longer term, time travellers could use it as a way to figure out which year they are in. Pick an Apple product, and you can then see when you are by just figuring out where you are in the loop.

Apple Lisa in a landfil. (Photo source: Herald Journal. Lisa colorised by Amber Neely.)
Apple Lisa in a landfil. (Photo source: Herald Journal. Lisa colorized by Amber Neely.)

Admittedly, there's a sometimes very long patch at the start of an Apple product's life in which it doesn't actually exist. There are rumors, and they get so loud or so often repeated that we all come to believe them despite our better judgment. Right now, that's some kind of Apple Glasses, and, of course, the Apple Car.

Then, of course, once a rumor is believed, we're off to the races. On any given day, you can read a commentary or a tweet or a newspaper article stating as fact that Apple is doing it. And also stating as fact that Apple must do it, or the company will die. And, sometimes in the very same piece, a statement of fact that Apple cannot do it, they're too late.

At some point between one and five years later, Apple announces it.

Available today

It used to be that Apple would do that "good morning" schtick, followed by how this is the best product they've ever made. And then they'd end the presentation with those great words, "available today."

That's long gone now, mostly because of how much bigger Apple is now than it was before. Unfortunately, it's created a new hiatus for commenters to fill, but as of the moment a new Apple product is unveiled, certain things must happen.

The new Apple product will not be anything at all like everyone said it would. It will definitely be late to the market, that's guaranteed, but it will also feature Apple's figurative trademark. This new product, whatever it is, will do something or utilize something or feature something that is so obvious -- but only in retrospect -- that everybody else will copy it.

Not that they'll admit this at first. Initially, rival manufacturers are required to mock Apple for it.

Apple's cancelled AirPower charging mat.
Yeah, okay, there's always an exception.

Everybody who dislikes Apple will hate the new product, actual use or release is unnecessary.

They'll find some Android or Microsoft device which once had something a bit like this new feature Apple has introduced, and they will scoff. They'll just simultaneously ignore that if it's on an Android phone, it was on just one of the thousands, and it never took off. If it's a Microsoft product, they'll ignore that it's still saddled with Windows, and that it never took off.

All of this will go on while we enter the interregnum between Apple's unveiling and Apple's actual shipping of the product. We always know when that will be, because Apple always tells us -- and Apple always pushes it.

The new Mac Pro is currently in this part of the cycle, with a date sometime later this year. There have already been Windows PC builds or Hackintoshes that are claimed to be more powerful -- except they always leave out bits that the builder deems as non-important.

Available eventually

The product will ship on or about the last possible day that it can to still count as being when they said. So "by the end of the year" means anywhere from mid-December to around the 31st.

People actually handle the product after the keynote presentation. It doesn't matter whether they did or not, though, because again, the news cycle script demands certain reactions.

It used to be that they were actually available today. We miss those days.
It used to be that they were actually available today. We miss those days.

It's too expensive. That one is guaranteed, it is a total certainty that people will say Apple's new product, whatever it is, costs too much. To be fair, Apple really pushes it on the price, but also to be fair, it's usually the case that you couldn't make even a rough equivalent for what they're charging.

Partly because of the expense, critics will conclude that nobody but "Apple sheep" will buy it. This is generally coupled with cries that nobody will want it, and also Apple is far too late to the market.

At the same time, other manufacturers will be rushing rival versions to market. And, yes, for "other manufacturers," read "Samsung."

On that last day, at that last possible moment before you could say Apple is late, Apple ships the product. Apple shipped the iMac Pro and the 2013 Mac Pro like this, with days or hours left to go in the year.

We must love boxes

Instantaneously, you get unboxing videos by the metric ton. Every pixel of the product is detailed, compared and analysed. As part of this, there will be fans making YouTube videos about how great it is, haters making YouTube videos about how bad it is, and everyone making videos about how terrible everybody else's videos are.

We don't know it yet, but we're already in the waning days of the product. AirPods are in this stage, though chiefly because we can no longer remember a time before them.

What's next?

After release, discussion begins about next mystery Apple product. The new release has been out for an hour, and the hot takes flow, saying what Apple is definitely going to do next time.

Some people even mock up what a new Apple product might look like.
Some people even mock up what a new Apple product might look like.

It doesn't matter that what Apple is actually going to do is iterate on this product, making it better and better with each version.

There may be a brief calamity as someone, somewhere, finds something wrong with the product and there two things can happen. Apple may fix the problem quietly. Or it might huff and puff about it, but it'll still get fixed in the end, if you just hang on in there.

And by now, this new product that we have waited for, built up, knocked down, criticized for being way too expensive, yet also then bought, will be the norm. It's part of the Apple product range.

You forget that it was ever new. You may even forget about it completely, especially if it doesn't happen to be a device that you personally will need.

Only, your actual needs go out of the window when the next thing happens. Apple replaces it with an upgraded version that is much better and yet at the same price. And your actual desires go out of the window when, eventually, Apple discontinues the product entirely.

Hall of fame

At that point, we go into the special endgame reserved only for Apple products, and even then, only some of them. There are plenty that are just forgotten instantly, but there are others that somehow regenerate into suddenly venerated objects.

We love this machine - now. If we had loved it more at the time, Apple might not have cancelled it.
We love this machine - now. If we had loved it more at the time, Apple might not have cancelled it.

You didn't buy one, not enough people bought one, or Apple would've continued it. But, now this discontinued product is a beloved classic of Apple design and it is a travesty that it's gone.

It is apparently so much of a tragedy that it gets one more stab at holding our attention -- or rather, it gets several of the same type. This now beloved vintage classic becomes the subject of fond memories, written up on its fifth, tenth, fifteenth and twenty-first anniversaries.

Since this is what happens with absolutely every single Apple product of any description ever made, and as it happens in exactly this sequence every single time, it's only surprising we can keep track. Fortunately, that's what Wikipedia is for.

Once you've heard the same criticisms of a not-yet-released product enough times, you do start to think about all this. And it's startling how what we've described here tongue-in-cheek turns out to have really solid, repeated basis in fact. Yet there is also this -- only Apple products go through such a specific cycle of prediction, anticipation, release, criticism, and reverence.

Keep up with AppleInsider by downloading the AppleInsider app for iOS, and follow us on YouTube, Twitter @appleinsider and Facebook for live, late-breaking coverage. You can also check out our official Instagram account for exclusive photos.


  • Reply 1 of 6
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,020member
    Short-term memory has become more prevalent in the age of the Internet, where instant gratification happens every few seconds and something that was once highly anticipated is quickly tossed aside for the next. It amazes me how people tend to forget so quickly anymore especially when all of our memories are at the tips of our fingers laying dormant in a closet on a server on the "other side" of the Internet. So easy to recall yet we prefer to use those few seconds to instead pump even more information through our garbage-disposal minds. Why refer to our past when we can continue to make the same mistakes, have the same complaints and have someone make a few bucks on the click-bait, whore sites that encourages us to remain ignorant.

    The Internet is the greatest knowledge base this world has ever known. Unfortunately it's also the biggest rabbit hole, sucking our ability and desire to use it intelligently.

    Speaking of Apple product life cycles... I remember when the iPod came out - the interwebs imploded with the Apple-hate. Soon after, in the real world, the iPod exploded and everyone that wasn't just a user name on a message board had one and loved it.
    edited August 19 lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 6
    I'm a little confused. It seems like the title of this article should be "I miss the most recent Macbook". Or was that just a stand in illustration for the final phase, missing a discontinued Apple product? I'm down with that - I really miss the 17" MBP.
  • Reply 3 of 6
    To be fair, you missed one of the upsides: a lot of times when there's a new product rumor, people are elated. For example, I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to see what the new 16" Macbook Pro with scissors keyboard is like. I might be disappointed, and I certainly have no illusions that it will be as good as I'd like, but it's still a chance for a huge leap forwards - a reason so want to upgrade again. So don't overlook the positive. Also, while Apple's Macbook Pro line in particular has been quite disappointing this generation, their new budget lines have been quite exciting, receiving a lot of praise. For example, I love the new Mac Mini and the new Macbook Air. They bring back a lot of the needed things from Apple's 2011 heyday, like a full suite of ports and (some) expandability at a reasonable price. So I'd say that while you've captured the elements of the life cycle, the intensity of each one really does vary with the product. (And of course, to people who aren't in the Apple ecosystem, everything will seem expensive.)
  • Reply 4 of 6
    Even the new Mac Pro and Pro Display are really cool - they just are priced out of reach of home users, so they're more like what you'd put on a poster on your wall.
    Mike Wuerthelecornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 6
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 730member
    Overall I agree with this assessment. The buzz around Apple products is very predictable, and has been for decades. I remember talk about the Apple Tax in the 1990s. I do disagree with one bit though. The MacBook venerated? Hardly. If not enough people bought one it was because you didn't get enough bang for your buck. The processor was weak for all but the simplest tasks. Worst of all the one plug was just dumb. Want to charge the unit and you have to unplug your external monitor, or mouse, or anything else. Yes there were docks, but you should not have to buy a aftermarket accessory to get a basic level of functionality. I found it very telling that they dropped it in favour of the revises MacBook Air that had multiple plugs. The MacBook was crippled by its design.
  • Reply 6 of 6
    Nailed it. I think the only things you left out were dropping, bending and blending.
Sign In or Register to comment.