Apple forces preauthorization to help avoid scalping / grey market phones. This change is a result of the "SIM Free" phones, not some new Apple store version. Expect the next round of iPhones to continue the preauthorization at launch.
But teeing off of "What Would Steve Jobs Do/Not Do", Steve Jobs would not let these Apple events devolve into a litany of completely uninspired and unprepared speakers. Apple events are nearly unwatchable.