Editorial: Steve Jobs would have been proud of Tim Cook's Apple News & Apple TV event

in General Discussion edited March 2020
As a company, Apple has shifted dramatically over the last eight years since the passing of Steve Jobs. Monday's "its show time" Apple News and Apple TV event was a primary example of this, being the first to focus entirely upon non-hardware product offerings while introducing a series of celebrities talking about their new projects to create content that has nothing to do with the computing technology that has always defined Apple. What's going on?

Apple's hardware-free presentation was actually all about its hardware

A truly bizarre response

Apple's event was described as "truly bizarre" and "the weirdest" by GV partner and former Tech Crunch pundit M.G. Siegler, who went on at length to disparage everything presented as "silly" to "mildly pathetic." Among other things, he wondered aloud why Apple didn't spend any time on stage talking about the old Newsstand-- a jab which sort of tipped the whole piece off as not really meant as criticism but rather just mean cynicism. A long effort at "look at me, I'm punching up!"

A variety of other writers took similar populist swipes at Apple's event, often belaboring the idea that Apple has changed and that it's all for the worse.

Why did Apple spend so much time perfecting a presentation outlining its vision for its future in Services, only to have its invited guests rip all over it and portray everything from its new credit card to video games to digital magazines and original TV programming as being some sort of unpleasant shift, or a high risk, dangerous move that's not what we expect of the company, while also being derided as unlikely to make any real difference in a crowded market?

The stridency of Apple's critics is getting ever louder and more shrill, yet with no real or lasting effect. Somewhat ironically, Apple is putting itself out as the savior of journalism with News+, a source of what is supposed to be tightly curated, professional wordsmithing. Yet if you look at what Apple's News team curates on the subject of Apple itself, it just isn't very impressive.

Apple doesn't seem to be cultivating good writers saying interesting things about the subject of Apple itself, so how will it be doing so in other areas? Consider the kind of reporting that currently appears under the topic of Apple in News today: it's almost entirely dumb trash scribbled up by bad writers from non-reputable clickbait sources like MarketWatch and Yahoo.

Apple's editor in chief for News, Lauren Kern, drafted her vision for high-quality reporting in a News app announcement, but this message appeared next to News' typical mindless clickbait, such as Jacob Possy literally saying "Apple isn't telling you" things that it tells you in print on its website, and a Yahoo staffer stringing together harsh words that just don't really make any sense.

Apple News vision vs reality

These are not even negative think pieces, just merely boorish concern-twaddle that could be crafted by an AI algorithm trained on the past writing of junior bloggers hired to fill content for newspapers who have fired all of their actual writers and editors because Google and Facebook siphoned off all their revenue. Much of this week's Event coverage was the same sort of thing, meaning that Apple's own website stood out as informative. Perhaps Apple is doing this by design?

Bypassing the design of the Steve Jobs Theater

It was unusual that Apple launched three significant new hardware updates (iPads, iMacs and new AirPods) with little more than a Tweet and web page in the days before the event. It wasn't ineffective; Apple had people talking about the new products for a solid week before hosting its event.

But Apple Park's Steve Jobs Theater was designed specifically to wow attendees with its hands-on product reveal area, one which opens up dramatically after a Keynote to let those in the audience handle the new hardware being released.

Yet at this Event, the Theater's cylindrical stone wall was left open from the start, making it clear that the entire show was going to occur on stage, inside the theater itself.

The dramatic product show area was simply left open at the Event

Those in attendance saw only a little more of the presentation than those watching the Live Stream from home. In fact, home viewers streaming the event got telescopic close-ups with expertly directed cinematography shot by technicians piloting Apple's robotic arm cameras (visible below).

The robot camera arm captured tighter shots for streaming viewers

What invited guests uniquely saw was Apple Park itself, a vast monument to Apple's perfectionism and attention to detail, with carefully selected treats laid out in careful rows, and tables offering pour-over coffees and various organic juice mixes. There were a few high fashion chairs laid out to make the entry area of the Theater feel ever so slightly more comfortable than its starkly minimal modernism naturally affords.

Inside the theater, Apple embellished its presentation with video projections on the walls of the venue that made the stage appear to stretch on dramatically for miles, creating an immersive experience that gave attendees something new to look at while celebrities talked at length about their episodic projects.

Apple turned the walls of the Steve Jobs Theater into a wrap-around lake of projected video

Prior to the show, Apple welcomed its guests with a solid hour or two of socializing among themselves, without guiding any of their conversations. And after the event, attendees were let out to get back home and ponder what they'd seen without any PR coaching or written-up guides telling them what they should think, or say about the presentation. At most corporate PR events, there seems to be stronger efforts to shape the ensuing discussion.

Similarly, when you attend an early screening of a film project, the people making the film earnestly seek your response. Yet here, Apple showed off entirely new directions for the company-- including new forays into digital magazines, video games, and original TV programming-- and then simply waved goodbye to its attendees, ushering them into the Apple Park Visitor Center across the street where cute lunches were waiting for them.

Pearls before swine

It appears Apple has completely given up on trying to sculpt what the media is going to say about its work. Or, alternatively, it feels like Apple doesn't really care what gets written up about its work immediately, as this sort of thing is of minimal value anyway.

Recall that 2007's iPhone was shown off to pundits who largely demanded to know when it would run Adobe Flash and Java applets. And in 2010, iPad was unveiled to a cranky bunch of skeptics who largely didn't get it and perhaps still don't.

Pundits couldn't contain their "dissapoiment" with iPad

Many pundits still apparently think Apple's iPad business is sort of equivalent to Google's, or Samsung's, or Microsoft's -- rather than being a $20 billion enterprise in a market where nobody else's tablets even matter and certainly aren't making any money at all or serving much of a real purpose for anyone. Yet Apple's iPad business continues to crank along, incrementally building itself out as a platform capable of launching additional billions worth of the new Services Apple just showed off.

Nobody else has the ability to launch such projects to such a vast installed base of premium tablet and smartphone users -- one Oprah described as "a billion pockets y'all."

None of the pessimism targeting early iPhone and iPad launches had any real effect on what individuals thought of the new hardware. Apple' media critics have similarly only been ineffectually negative on everything from MacBooks to HomePods, insisting that Apple really should be doing the opposite of everything it does. Everything needs to be cheaper and not so thin, of course.

Members of the media are cheering among themselves about taking Apple down a peg at any opportunity-- like the Wall Street Journal choosing Apple's event week as the timing for unleashing a virally social multimedia presentation offering condescending advice about how MacBooks should just be thicker, because that's what people really want: a thick PC with USB-A ports and maybe a tablet mode featuring detachable bases, m most importantly with no "butterfly" keyboard.

The same blogger who had to ask for help in typing up a column with the appearance of being affected by a faulty keyboard-- "search and replace" was too complex of an idea to arrive at on one's own -- was vainly offering fresh engineering advice to Apple's hardware team, perhaps the most arrogant missive since writing up how Apple should abandon its data privacy schtick because ad surveillance is simply here and there's nothing we can do about it anyway.

In 2016, that Wall Street Journal blogger was lauding the user data mining of Facebook and Google, while castigating Cook's privacy stance with the words, "while I applaud and appreciate your assurance of privacy, my worry is that you simply can't afford to maintain that mentality when the competition has such a great advantage."

Wall Street Journal bloggers offer Apple a lot of advice, but it's not necessarily valuable

Two years later, rather than revisiting the wisdom of the advice admonishing Apple to abandon its data privacy efforts, this same blogger turned around and bizarrely announced that Apple's best selling iPhone XR was somehow "The Best iPhone Apple Can't Sell."

People who have careers based on outthinking Apple simply haven't contributed much to the world so far. And really, nobody is going to remember any of this in a month. Apple keeps doing its own thing, regularly showing off its work in front of an adversarial media audience that mocks and derides its presentations in a way that is really never seen with the press presentations of Microsoft, Samsung, Google, and certainly not Huawei.

There's far more media outrage about Apple putting a Lightning port on the bottom of its Magic Mouse than in Google profiting from the monetizing of child endangerment videos or shoveling ISIS radicalism in front of its most vulnerable viewers. Huawei might be outlined in scathing intelligence reports as being callously sloppy in its own security engineering, but who cares? Apple's cancelation of AirPower is portrayed as a bigger "embarrassment."

Where is Steve Jobs' theater?

Apple's critics love to say what they imagine Steve Jobs would think about today's Apple. But their logic is often grounded in what Apple was back when Jobs was alive and fails to take into consideration that Apple's current trajectory was both enabled and influenced by Jobs himself. Is Tim Cook's media friendly, Services-focused, celebrity-enthralled Apple really that different from what Jobs aspired to create?

A look at what Jobs did across his entire life suggests that today's Apple is not doing anything really out of character, even if it now has Cook's unique fingerprints on it. Jobs was certainly the consummate showman of exciting new hardware, but that's not everything he did.

After leaving Apple in 1986, Jobs created a high-end copy of Apple at NeXT, but eventually shifted away from PC hardware to turn the firm into a software platform that sought to change the world with WebObjects e-commerce services. Jobs also bought Pixar, a high-end workstation hardware vendor, but also pivoted away from selling rendering hardware to instead develop the company into a CGI media powerhouse that turned celebrities like Tom Hanks and Tim Allen into, effectively, Animojis.

And consider what Jobs did after returning to Apple: he shifted the company's focus from selling as many cheap Macs as possible into a diversified firm focused on selling fashionable Macs capable of supporting an ecosystem including Pro Apps; iWork and iLife software suites; he introduced iPod and in parallel launched a huge media business of selling music, movies, and later apps, before introducing what would become iCloud services.

Jobs biggest hit-- the world's biggest hit-- was iPhone. Yet alongside iPhone hardware sales, Jobs worked to build out flashy glass and steel retail stores to show it off and service the installed base of fanatic users it was creating.

His Apple also advanced the success of the App Store as it shifted from just consumer mobile computing apps into the world's largest platform for custom enterprise software and the most successful mobile gaming platform to ever exist-- two things "Apple" was supposed to be completely inept at and possibly opposed to. Pretty clearly, Jobs was an open-minded innovator who looked to where the puck was headed, not just the unveiler of new gadgets.

Jobs last big "product" for Apple was the new Campus 2, which was expressly designed to become a campus for creative design. If Jobs only had the same limited vision of churning out new hardware devices to sell, Apple could have done what Google and Microsoft did: buy a Motorola and Nokia. Or it could have done what Andy Rubin or Jeff Bezos did: go to China and look for a product to tweak and call their own.

Apple Park exists to design more than just new hardware devices

But Jobs' Campus 2, now known as Apple Park, was pretty clearly designed to create exactly what Apple has been doing under Cook: introducing new technologies that work together to enable not just the sale of hardware like iPhones, AirPods, Apple Watch, and HomePod but also to introduce new content markets in the model of iTunes and the App Store, and perfect the flawed beginnings of Jobs-era Services like Newsstand, iWeb, MobileMe, Ping, Apple TV and iPod Games.

Rather than being some "weird" new shift, Apple's Services-heavy presentation was showing off a glimpse of the company's vision for building complete new "solutions" of products that combine the hardware we already know about and use with new markets for software and new content for driving satisfaction and stickiness of the ecosystem.

That would be right up Steve Jobs' alley.
firelocksacto joeStrangeDays


  • Reply 1 of 93
    smaffeismaffei Posts: 237member
    The fact that this opinion piece exists means that the fanboy base is worried. 

    They should be.
  • Reply 2 of 93
    bulk001bulk001 Posts: 693member
    It must have been incredibly difficult to follow the mythology of Steve Jobs while dealing with the loss of someone who it seems was his friend. He has done really well. 
    Dave Kapleavingthebiggwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 93
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,572member
    smaffei said:
    The fact that this opinion piece exists means that the fanboy base is worried. 

    They should be.

    Not at all.

    This is a normal reaction to the normal reactions after an Apple event. The fact of the matter is that it doesn’t matter what the “press” say, Apple continues to do their own thing, their own way, which a lot of people simply do not understand.
    lkruppleavingthebiggJWSCpbruttoracerhomie3bakedbananassacto joeneil andersonStrangeDaysnetmage
  • Reply 4 of 93
    firelockfirelock Posts: 231member
    What AI is pointing out is the classic non-doer critic's response to the doers. Whether or not Apple succeeds at everything it is trying to do right now in services is an open question, that they are making the attempt is what is more important. And if something fails Apple has shown its willingness to let go of what is not working (Ping, AirPower, Newstand, trashcan Mac Pro) and try something else rather than cling desperately to failing business model until it is too late. To quote Theodore Roosevelt: 

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” 

    edited March 2019 Dave KapDan_Dilgerlkruppluxetlibertaskevin keeJWSCracerhomie3igerardsacto joeStrangeDays
  • Reply 5 of 93
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    What struck me most about this presentation is how Tim returned to Steve's magic at presenting new products:

    Steve didn't, as many have said, give great presentations.  Instead, he displayed his very genuine joy and pride at his new product.  He was presenting a new product or explaining it or selling it -- he was showing it off like a kid with a new toy.  And, the joy and the pride were 100% genuine.
    ....   And, that's what I saw coming from Tim:   Very genuine pride and joy over the new products he was showing off.
    Dan_DilgerleavingthebiggcrabbyJWSCbeowulfschmidtsacto joeStrangeDaysnetmagewatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 6 of 93
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 1,380member
    smaffei said:
    The fact that this opinion piece exists means that the fanboy base is worried. 

    They should be.
    Nonsense!  It means that he is annoyed by the silly chorus of Apple haters who are almost always wrong! There has not been a single release Apple has done that they haven’t disparaged in since the original translucent iMacs 20 years ago. The things they claim Apple will have to copy from competitors to survive many times is the undoing of those companies. So, like a bad weather man, do the opposite of what they suggest. If they say it will be sunny and clear, take your rain suit. 

    Apple haters have one thing in common, they are consistently wrong while Apple has hit after hit after hit. The horses the haters pick continue  to be supported as they quietly cancel failure after failure while Apple sucks all the profits out of every market they enter into. 

    Like Daniel, I used to feel sorry for those people , but now am mostly annoyed that they keep talking and dragging uninitiated non tech consumers into their echo chamber of falsehoods. 
    lkruppleavingthebiggJWSCpbruttoracerhomie3bakedbananassacto joeStrangeDaysnetmageradarthekat
  • Reply 7 of 93
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    I inwardly cringe when I hear journalists dismissing concern over new products from Apple because "They did that with the iPhone and the [whatever] before.   So it doesn't mean anything."

    Steve knew and Tim knows that every new product must stand on it own 2 feet and that past success is not a guarantee of future success.
    That is not to trash or disparage Apple's new products.  It is merely to say that dismissing today's concerns because of past mistakes has no validity and instead is just propaganda:  "You were wrong before, so that proves that you are wrong this time".

    Again, that is not to trash or even comment on Apple's latest products.  Instead it is about invalid, illogical rebuttals of criticisms.

    For myself, I give News+ about a 50/50 chance.   It's a great concept that has a lot of potential, but from what I have seen of it so far, I think it has a long way to go before it fulfills that potential.   But then I said the same about the first iterations of the iPhone:  "It's not that great".  And I stick with that:   The original iPhones simply were inferior to my Samsung/Palm hybrid smart phone.   It took till the iPhone 5 before it caught up and surpassed what I could get from Samsung and Palm.   Hopefully Apple develops these new products in a similar way -- and I am optimistic that they will,
  • Reply 8 of 93
    Umm... ok...Thou dost protest too hard. Sometimes, ‘blah’ is just blah. No big deal, as long as it’s not the harbinger of a trend. 

    I think the only really good news about this event was the feeling one got that Cue is perhaps finally being put to pasture. 
  • Reply 9 of 93
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 2,068member
    smaffei said:
    The fact that this opinion piece exists means that the fanboy base is worried. 

    They should be.
    Well you know DED had to get in a hit piece on Joanna Stern who is a real journalist at the WSJ just because she brilliantly pointed out that Apple stills sells a flawed keyboard.  I just hope that she appears in the News+ feed.   I'm shocked that he didn't take a dig at theVerge for something that hurt his feelings about Apple.

    As for Apple TV+ it did seem like a bland and boring event that relied upon a bunch of old stars to sell a service whereas I would like to have seen more scenes from the new shows that showed that they were either extremely funny or interesting. 
    I expect Apple will lose a lot of money on Apple TV+ as it builds both content and audience which could take 10 years.    At least Apple is hiding the loses by limiting what they disclose in their quarterly reports now.   With so many executives leaving ATT owned HBO Apple should be able to hire a few good writers, producers, and directors.   For now I'm sticking with HBO (at least till GOT has aired).

    "Apple's cancelation of AirPower is portrayed as a bigger "embarrassment."

    Yes the cancelation of AirPower is a big embarrassment only because there was a lot of expectation for the product after two years.   And to wait to Cancel it after releasing the charging case was a "Used Car Salesman type of move". 

    Everything Apple seems to be doing with the Apple Credit card seems great.    I just wish it wasn't with Goldman Sachs because of its role in the sub-prime Mortgage Crises. Unfortunately when you look at National and International Financial institutions there probably isn't many that have clean hands from the Great Recession.

  • Reply 10 of 93
    s.metcalfs.metcalf Posts: 923member
    I wasn’t the least bit interested in this “event” (presentation) and I’m even less interested in this 2,000+ word counter-rant about it.  I can’t even watch the presentations with new hardware anymore because of Tim Cook.

    I’m just not interested in Apple curating news or creating content.  Everything has to be approved and conform to their terms and conditions, which are designed (in part) to promote their corporate image as a safe and family-friendly platform.  We’ve seen how app developers can fall foul of these guidelines for laughably minor things.  They’ve also disallowed apps such as Wikileaks for political reasons.  Would an article or film that’s highly critical of Apple (or examines labour or environmental conditions) be approved for publication through their services?  Whether yes or no, it’s being subject to approval (and therefore disapproval) that’s the problem.

    It’s for this reason that I deleted the News app and won’t consider News+ (whatever that is).  I’m not a baby and I’m not interested in a platform that’s made “safe” for me.  I do begrudgingly accept the locked-down (for apps) iOS platform in exchange for security and other benefits of the iPhone and App Store, but there’s no way I’ll let their approvals processes and oversight cross over to other content that I’ve traditionally viewed in a free and open fashion.  If I see an Apple or Disney logo on content I’m unlikely to be interested—it’s just not my thing.

    I wish I could get adult-oriented “stickers” for iMessage, but you can’t.  This is my point about Apple and content: I wish they’d focus on making excellent hardware.  They seem to have enough on their plate keeping most of their computers up to date.
    edited March 2019 anantksundaram80s_Apple_GuyuraharaLatkosmaffeimonstrositychemengin
  • Reply 11 of 93
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,393member
    k2kw said:
    smaffei said:
    The fact that this opinion piece exists means that the fanboy base is worried. 

    They should be.

    Everything Apple seems to be doing with the Apple Credit card seems great.    I just wish it wasn't with Goldman Sachs because of its role in the sub-prime Mortgage Crises. Unfortunately when you look at National and International Financial institutions there probably isn't many that have clean hands from the Great Recession.

    Goldman Sachs is involved with more shady stuff than just the subprime mortgage scheme. Malaysia would be the most recent, and they lodged criminal charges against them just a few months ago.  They seem to me to have a history of skirting the edges based on the reported insider trading scandals (tip of the iceberg?), EU investments, US financial manipulations,  and other such fraudulent activity involving them. 

    Heck maybe it's all just standard practice in the financial world and GC is no different than the others. 
    edited March 2019 s.metcalfbigpicsJWSC
  • Reply 12 of 93
    eideardeideard Posts: 427member
    smaffei said:
    The fact that this opinion piece exists means that the fanboy base is worried. 

    They should be.
    Illogical, irrelevant, ignorant...as are a few others in this lot. Written on my iPad, of course.
    sacto joenetmagewatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 13 of 93
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,648member
    You forgot to mention the failures of Siri and iCloud, so all non local (server) projects failed execept iTunes.
    Understandable that people mistrust endeavors in this direction.
    I disagree about iWeb though, this worked very well and the iWeb editor was fun and actually helpful to work with. A shame that Apple axed this in favor of its App store apps; I do think that Steve Jobs envisioned iWeb as the future of (web) development.
    It’s also a missed oppertunity for Apple not to become Apple bank, but issueing an Apple Card.
    Apple could indeed have been a ‘force for good’ being able to fund promissing eco/social projects and ventures of special inspiring people and companies (having a non profit attitude).
    But alas, Apple chooses to burn it’s 200 billion dollar or so to please (or should I say pease) the shareholders instead of thinking ‘the next big thing’.
  • Reply 14 of 93
    eideardeideard Posts: 427member
    "I wish I could get adult-oriented “stickers” but you can’t." Take the comparatively small amount of time needed to learn to use Apple and Apple-based software and you may create your own stickers.
  • Reply 15 of 93
    sirozhasirozha Posts: 801member
    Pathetic advocacy piece of the pathetic lack of vision. 
  • Reply 16 of 93
    Disclaimer: Avid AppleInsider reader, for more than a decade and counting.

    Steve Jobs would not (one can reasonably assumes) be proud to have his name and legacy be used as clickbait for a piece that could, with no loss to its core message, just mention his name because of the venue's name from last week event!

    For all the finger-pointing we routinely find on AI, about the rest of the tech media always spiting out some iteration of: "Apple is doomed because ..., that would never have happened under Steve.", it's baffling to see that, although AI does not share the same "doom & gloom" prognosis, it does uses the same overall strategy to garner more clicks on a slow news Sunday morning.

    Hopefully, this situation will start to improve with the push to news subscription (although I'll have to wait for a global rollout). I would vey much happily pay for access to real newsworthy articles, editorials, and op-eds, if that means I don't have to navigate around clickbait trying to find anything worth reading.

    It is a shame to see AI editorial staff in this predicament, and I hope things do get better.
  • Reply 17 of 93
    georgie01georgie01 Posts: 420member
    The stridency of Apple's critics is getting ever louder and more shrill...”

    It’s been astounding to me how biased the media can become against Apple. It’s even more astounding that we, as Apple supporters, see this and get frustrated about it but somehow don’t see the media also doing the exact same thing toward our current administration (and about 100X worse). The most astounding thing of it all is how we as people dismiss the obvious, sometimes in the face of mountains of opposing evidence, and simply believe what we want to believe. I’d like to think Apple supporters know this so well and can see it happening, but it doesn’t appear that’s the case.
  • Reply 18 of 93
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,367member
    Never a fan of what Steve would have though articles or comments....oh well. Nobody truly knows what Steve would have thought. I guess it was kind of a Steve Job jobs type Keynote, especially the movies portion at the end. I will say that was very well done. Hopefully it turns out as good as the Keynote did in the end. 
    edited March 2019 mac_128JWSCsacto joenetmageStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 93
    mef475mef475 Posts: 3member
    Great article, as usual! Totally agree.
    I particularly liked the sentence: "People who have careers based on outthinking Apple simply haven't contributed much to the world so far. " That, I presume, also includes sponsored trolls on forums...
    apricot88sacto joenetmagewatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 20 of 93
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,454member
    macxpress said:
    Never a fan of what Steve would have though articles or comments....oh well. Nobody truly knows what Steve would have though. I guess it was kind of a Steve Job jobs type Keynote, especially the movies portion at the end. I will say that was very well done. Hopefully it turns out as good as the Keynote did in the end. 
    Frankly I can’t believe any legitimate article, opinion or not, would trade on the concept of “Steve Jobs would have ....”. And I’m absolutely stunned AI would do it. Such articles completely undermine the credibility of not just the person presenting the article, but the website itself.
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