Copy this please: 9 things Apple can teach Google about keynotes

Photo: Roberto Baldwin/The Next Web

Photo: Roberto Baldwin/The Next Web

Siri: “How long should a keynote last?”

As anyone who watched Wednesday’s nearly three-hour livestream of the Google I/O kickoff, the answer to that question should be 90 minutes or less.

As the event dragged on, the tone on Twitter went from restrained interest about Google’s somewhat underwhelming announcements to reports of sleeping reporters and jabs at the ponderous presentation’s length. “Apple just launched a keynote shortener,” tweeted Dave Pell.

Sure, it’s just a keynote for coders. But these big events can be much more than straightforward data dumps for the developers in attendance: They give the tech fans a peek inside a business’ corporate operating system. They offer a golden opportunity to capture the public interest – or send would be fans yawning to the competition.

Apple, which set the bar high for keynotes during the Steve Jobs era, stumbled in the years after his death. But at its Worldwide Developers Conference last month, Apple got its mojo back in a big way.

Here are some pro tips for kicking ass, Apple-style, at the next Google I/O.

Keep it short: Droning on for more than two hours is the most obvious way Google’s I/O presentation went awry. Next time, set a timer: You can even use Google Now to do it hands-free.

Bring a bombshell: Most of Google’s big announcements (Google Fit, a new version of Android known as the “L release”) had already been leaked. In contrast, Apple unveiled a new programming language called Swift and a game development tool called Metal that turned heads at WWDC.

Nail the product names: One of the day’s biggest shockers is that we didn’t get a proper candy name for the next version of Android. Throughout the presentation, Google execs kept calling the upcoming KitKat successor “L.” Maybe that’s the full name, but it’s a lot less catchy than rumored contenders like “Lollipop” and “Lemon Drop.” And speaking of Apple’s Metal, that’s a pretty good name. Google’s initiative to improve gaming graphics? It’s called Android Expansion Pack. I have no idea how these two things will affect game development, but I can tell you which one has a memorable name.

Find your Steve Jobs: Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs, so Apple looked inside and found a suitable replacement to become the face of the company. Apple exec Craig Federighi emerged as the company’s new “Superman” presenter at this year’s WWDC. Google’s Sundar Pichai might be “the most powerful man in mobile,” but he’s no Federighi.

To look like a team, dress like a team: Although nerds aren’t known for their fashion sense, Apple’s team looks coached to win with similar office-casual ensembles. The Googlers ran the sartorial gamut from scruffy beards and hoodies to a derby-ready dress with T-strap shoes.

Write a couple of good jokes: The few jokes cracked onstage by Google execs fell flat. At WWDC, Apple figureheads actually made people laugh. One could argue that entertainment is not the point of a big tech keynote, but any good presenter knows that comedy is a crucial tool for keeping an audience engaged, whatever the topic.

Put enterprise on the back burner: We get it. Enterprise means big business. But Google’s interminable deep dive into its enterprise initiatives is probably what put the nodding journalist to sleep. Apple wisely kept its enterprise update brief at WWDC.

Don’t bury the good stuff: Google Fit — the open platform for mashing together all the data being produced from wearables, health and fitness devices, and related apps — will compete against Apple’s similar HealthKit. It should be a major initiative, but it got buried at the tail end of a tedious keynote.

Paper the room: Apple is very selective about which partners they call out during keynotes, and the announcements almost always get a response. Most of Google’s partnership deals drew crickets at this year’s I/O. Maybe Apple just does a better job of seeding the room with their “people,” but the lack of enthusiasm from (possibly napping) developers does not generate the kind of positive energy that woos users — and future partners — to your platform.

  • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

    Product names? “Find your Steve Jobs”? Dress like a team? Write a good joke? Wow, you guys really do get sucked into Apple’s methods… This is a developer conference, it’s not for hipsters to have a good time by oooing and aaahhing over pretty colors and fancy clothes.

    • Leovinius

      That’s right, nothing can ever be interesting, funny or good looking because that is forbidden in your world, isn’t it?

      • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

        I’m not saying that at all. 1/4 of this articles points are about fashion and how to make things appeal to your average hipster that attends WWDC. The sole point of Google I/O is to show developers what Android will look like in the near future, they don’t want to cater to casual users.

      • CelestialTerrestrial

        If you talk to someone that specializes in presentations, there are do’s and don’ts. Obviously, Apple knows a lot of the do’s in the world of giving a presentation than Google.

        I’ve seen several of these presentations done by Google and they are VERY amateur in how they present their products.

      • Shane Bryson

        The internet is laughing at you.

      • Kr00

        Are you serious or are you just trying to pull our legs? The tech world doesn’t work that way. It lives or dies on appeal and sentiment, yet you think it’s just for devs. Yep, that approach has certainly worked for Microsoft, Nokia and Blackberry in the past few years, hasn’t it?

      • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

        This is what Google claims Google I/O is: “I/O is an annual developer-focused conference held by Google in San Francisco, California.”

      • Newob86

        But it is still a presentation and a public speech. Therefore, there is obvious things you should do and shouldn’t with it.

      • Derek Schlicker

        That might be what they call it, but looking at how Apple and MS run their DC’s, Google is pathetic in comparison. DCs have turned into a public showcase of new products, so they need to market them as such.

        Google has always had great ideas and great products but they’ve never A) been able to market them to be desirable and B) have never really finished an idea to completion.

        Google has this expectation that the products and services will speak for themselves, when in fact this is not always the case. This kind of public unveiling needs to create energy and passion for the product to the public. That in turn drives sales and user engagement.

        Apple is excellent at doing that. MS is not great at it but they at least try. Google, it seems to me anyway, doesn’t give a rip if the public knows a product or service exists.

        IMO, this is b/c Apple’s revenues are *solely* reliant on active user engagement and passion. That’s how they can demand the prices they do on their products. Google makes money on ad revenue. Different incentives.

      • Matt W

        Now give us a definition for WWDC and then please explain why you don’t feel like Google developers deserve a well designed and possibly even entertaining presentation.

      • http://www.facebook.com/alphacharlie110 Andrew Cast

        I am not a casual user and I am a developer “WWDC” stands for World Wide Developers Conference a WEEK LONG conference for Apple developers. It has workshops, hands on with your app with Apple engineers. The WWDC shows of the future of Apple software releases.

      • R3sp3ctfu1Gam3r

        Dude. Get over it. Everyone knows the keynotes are more for the press than for the developers. It’s the week-long schedule of workshops that delve into the nitty gritty afterwords that matter. Apple chooses not to bore everyone with details, offering workshops instead. Google does. Simple as that.

      • Michael

        They probably also don’t want to actively put casual users to sleep. There’s no reason to, so why? Just let people be awake and enjoy your information if they’re curious.

      • Matt W

        I watched all three hours of the IO it was a boring mess. The article does provide several good tips. Google needs someone with a personality to drive the show. Apple’s keynote was for developers too. Do you think developers want to see boring poorly executed presentations?

    • Beau Bo

      It seems to keep Apple laughing all the way to the bank! And, as an investor that’s fine with me.

    • Kr00

      You seem to forget that the world watches too. You know, the people who are your customers or prospective customers, as well as the main stream media. You bore those people you lose those people. You obviously know nothing about marketing. Perhaps Google could employ you as their next marketing strategist.

      • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

        I watched WWDC as well, and as a tech guru I didn’t enjoy watching for 15 minutes as they went on about how awesome OS X looked with semi-transparent windows and beautiful colors. Google is strictly business.

      • Kr00

        Somehow I feel you have a certain bias, lets call it a hunch. IF you were a dev, you wouldn’t be so myopic towards the most lucrative platform for developers in history. Haven’t you got some code to write, or is being an apologist for Google your full time job?

      • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

        It just irks me when bloggers such as Cult of Mac post articles claiming how everyone should copy Apple and their sense of fashion.

      • R3sp3ctfu1Gam3r

        It irks you when Cult of Mac writes articles claiming how everyone should copy Apple? So let me get this straight. It irks you the Cult of Mac writes articles praising Apple. That Cult of Mac praises Apple? That CULT OF MAC praises APPLE?

        lol

      • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

        Your comment reflects your username and how you must have failed English class.

      • R3sp3ctfu1Gam3r

        Easy there chief. Just making sure I understand you correctly that you’re upset to see an article praising Apple’s ways on an Apple cult site.

      • Matt W

        What the person you inexplicably personally attacked was saying is that they are suprised you would read a site called “Cult of Mac” if you find people praising Apple irksome.

      • Kr00

        Yet you watched 3 hours of bore? Yep, sounds legit to me. Isn’t there a bridge you should be under somewhere?

      • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

        Most people don’t live stream the keynote, they read up on the key points that get written up during and after the keynote. Google had plenty of exciting and useful features ahead.

      • Matt Quinn

        You got owned lol

      • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

        Grow up, kid.

      • Kr00

        What is a tech guru anyway? Another name for a fanboy, I’m guessing. I think you know where the door is Mr guru.

      • R3sp3ctfu1Gam3r

        Haha. He said tech guru.

      • herbaled

        And “strictly” business is strictly boooring.

      • Matt W

        Really? So then you did not watch IO at all then…

    • Joel Cornett

      Yes, they may have used some specific Apple terms (like find your Steve Jobs), but really, the points made would still be applicable to ANY public presentation if you want it to be interesting.

      While the features are cool, the presentation itself wasn’t all that interesting. Yes, it’s for developers, not “hipsters” as you put it, but when people are falling asleep during the presentation, you obviously aren’t making it interesting enough for the developers either…

  • corey sauer

    Add #10 to this list: Prepare Demos Ahead of Time that Actually WORK.

  • Kr00

    Yes, let’s just bore anyone who might be interested. Great strategy.

  • iEmaaans

    I have to admit I agree with you, this keynote was not entertaining as apple’s one… But there’s one major difference between the two. Apple has to impress with fancy presentations and fake shows. Google doesn’t need anything like that, what they showed us today was already impressive…

  • Lÿo

    The Google keynote was: Epic / Awesome / A snoozer.
    Choose one.

    • http://tiboine.com/ Tor Ivan Boine

      it was epic, then awesome, then a snoozer. in 10%, 30%, 60% increments

  • http://davtun.eu David Pérez

    But Google I/O is an event made by devs for devs, not to casual users.

  • herbaled

    Re. the statement “One could argue that entertainment is not the point of a big tech keynote.

    Then one would lose that argument. ALL presentations should be entertaining AND interesting …. which are pretty much the same thing.

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Lewis WallaceLewis Wallace is a San Francisco-based writer and editor specializing in technology and culture.

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