Tuesday Talk is a series of occasional pieces of commentary I write on quiet (Apple news-wise) New Zealand Tuesdays.
Widely tipped as the day Apple would reveal a new iPhone, the 7th September has been confirmed as an Apple Event to launch something with the tagline ‘See you on the 7th’. Which pretty much tips that it will, indeed, be called iPhone 7, anyway.
Inevitably, in these quiet weeks and days leading to Apple announcements, all the Apple commentators try to imagine what the future will bring us from Apple, and they stray to deeper, more searching questions about the whole ethos of Apple Inc and where it’s going.
Tim Cook has now been Apple CEO of five years, and the whole culture of Apple changed around him. Apple under Jobs was virtually impenetrable. Questions from journalists used to be ignored completely, or if you were lucky, you got a short corporate-speak reply that told you nothing at all, except you were chuffed someone had bothered to respond at all. Now things are more open, people are more friendly and – appear, at least – less guarded.
Steve Jobs always said Apple was about stories, not things. People didn’t buy products, they bought stories. It’s an interesting concept, and one I have come to believe in more. Humans are deeply influenced by the stories they believe in – religious, cultural, historic stories, stories of struggle, stories told by politicians. It’s stories that motivate people. Jobs was definitely on to something, and his ethos is one of the reasons Apple never used the specs of devices as the primary marketing tool. (See Apple’s education stories, for example.)
We don’t know what Apple will release on the 7th. Apple has been known to plan 25 years ahead. What we do know is what Apple spends its research money on, and a lot can be told from the sorts of companies Apple acquires: for example, Apple recently bought Turi, a machine intelligence company. Virtual and augmented reality are also well in Apple’s sights.
However, other stories threaten Apple’s these days too. The wilder environment and more open world of Android, for instance. It’s nowhere near as safe as iOS, but it’s more attractive to developers. Microsoft is taking the battle to Apple’s tablets and smaller laptops with one device: Surface Pro.
Apple needs to tell a good story on the 7th.
A clear and decisive one which includes hope.