I respect Jim Dalrymple, think the iPhone 5 looks great, and am beyond impressed by the feats of engineering that Apple was able to achieve with their newest flagship device. I have no doubt that this thing is going to sell like crazy—even by iPhone standards. However, something was missing from the presentation last week.
Lots of people were saying that they were bored. But that always happens. I cannot recall a time in over ten years of closely following Apple when the press did not give at least a few “So what’s the big deal?” style reviews. Not even with the original iPhone. This time feels different somehow.
Honestly, I think it’s for two reasons. The first is the hardware. We knew going in almost exactly what the new hardware was going to be. I wrote that the importance would be in the details, and things like diamond dust cutting techniques and precision fitting of inlays are just the sort of thing I had in mind. Even there, though, there weren’t any big surprises (I’m thinking, “Look, the antenna’s on the outside!” type surprises).
Second is Tim Cook. I am not here trying to say that Tim isn’t doing a great job. Check the stock price, sales, and profit numbers; by any measure that really matters, he’s doing a pretty damn good job. The problem with Cook is in his presenting skills. He’s a slow talker, a little sleepy, but Steve Jobs slowed his speeches down during the opening and closing for effect. The difference is that with Cook, the enthusiasm seems manufactured specifically for the event. Make no mistake, I think Tim Cook is as excited or more so than anyone anywhere about Apple’s current and future projects. It just doesn’t translate well on stage.
So, if your opener and closer feels like he’s trying to summon enthusiasm for the presentation, the audience will be hard-pressed to genuinely feel it across the board. Many will be excited about the details, and many will be excited about impressive demos like Real Racing 3 (count me in that camp).
Overall, the open and close of the show were the weak points. That’s great for the products, not so great for news coming out of the presentation.