The only thing wrong with Apple’s product-release events is that there aren’t enough of them. The company supposedly will put on three of them this autumn — and while that’s a good start, there needs to be many more.
Apple held a product-release event in September, and will announce more new products at a second event on Tuesday. Unconfirmed reports point to a third event in November. But there’s no reason to stop there. Apple should keep holding them every month. They get us excited about new products, which is good for Apple — and for Apple fans, too.
Apple events in the Before Time
In previous years, Apple always mounted huge press events for its Worldwide Developers Conference and the release of the new iPhone. And some years, Apple sweetened the pot with other events — an iPad launch in spring or autumn, for example. Apple would invite hundreds of press and industry types from around the world to attend. These events were a certified Big Deal.
Then COVID-19 happened, and all Apple events went virtual. But Cupertino handled the change brilliantly. WWDC 2020 went so well that afterward, Cult of Mac‘s Luke Dormehl urged Apple to never go back to doing live keynotes. And the September event packed a similar polish and pizzazz.
Doubtless, the October 13 will go equally well. And the rumored November one, too. Clearly, Apple is good at this game.
Give us plenty o’ Apple product events
Apple’s September 2020 event brought two new iPads and two additional Apple Watches. At this Tuesday’s event, we expect the iPhone 12 lineup and a HomePod mini. Rumors about a possible November event point toward the unveiling of the first MacBook with Apple Silicon.
Apple wisely didn’t try to jam all these products into a single presentation. Anything announced on the same day as a new iPhone gets swept under the rug. And, realistically, there’s only so long people will pay attention to a presentation, no matter how compelling Apple tries makes it.
Those are the two best reasons for continuing the string of monthly events. Multiple events make room for each new product to shine as the star of an Apple product release. That nearly guarantees plenty of attention from all around the world — whatever the new product is.
A new iPhone doesn’t need the help. But a product-launch event can bring much-needed attention to a second-tier device. The best way to create some buzz for the long-rumored AirTags is to put them prominently in a launch event, for example. And Apple is much more than a hardware company. It can throw events focused on services and software, too.
Consider a December event. It’s only a suggestion, but the second seasons of many Apple TV+ programs will likely debut in January, or soon thereafter. Dickinson definitely will. A press event in which Jason Momoa, Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg dish about their shows would certainly be worth watching.
Early 2021 could bring monthly events focused on the next-generation iPhone SE, Apple Arcade, Apple Music and new features in upcoming versions of iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and macOS Big Sur. With all that potential material, there’s no reason for the party to stop.
Playing devil’s advocate
As in all of life, there would be some drawbacks to Apple holding monthly product-release events. As fickle humans, we value things because they’re rare. Apple’s events are a big deal because they only happen a few times a year, and thus also bring really significant announcements. That won’t be true if there’s one every month. There’s a real possibility we’ll all get jaded.
But this won’t happen if Apple plays its cards right. Cupertino makes a lot of products, but it could skip a month if there’s really nothing new worthy of an event. And people around the globe will still be very excited about the event where the next iPhone is unveiled, even if there were half a dozen earlier ones they didn’t care much about. Apple has nothing to lose (aside from the production costs of the additional events) and much to gain.
But this raises the question of what to do after the pandemic. When COVID-19 is a thing of the past, Apple absolutely must not go back to centering its product-launch events around an in-person audience. It’s a question of numbers. A couple of hundred press get to be in the auditorium for product launches — that’s a tiny, tiny fraction of the people who watch on video. The WWDC 2020 keynote racked up 11.5 million views on YouTube, for example.
Apple events: Not just for press
A decade ago, Apple brought the press together to get its message to influential journalists. Today, that’s not necessary. And speaking as someone who goes to events like this, crammed into a room with hundreds of other reporters is a terrible place to try to cover big announcements. All that really matters is the the hands-on time with the devices afterward.
Perhaps Apple can bring the press in only when it’s launching major products, like the next iPhone. There, company executives can give this group an in-person presentation. But that should happen in addition to a virtual presentation for the rest of the world, not as a replacement.
Another drawback is that the prerecorded events are slick, but they lose some of the excitement of live ones. There’s a certain amount of fun in wondering if Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, will have to fumble his way through a crashing application during a live demo. But while funny, these hiccups aren’t useful. He’s almost always demoing betas, and betas crash sometimes.
But monthly Apple product-release events would prove useful. They would provide the company plenty of opportunities to give strong launches to all its new offerings: hardware, software and services. And we would get an in-depth look at everything new Apple has to offer.
Think of it like an Apple TV show. There are 12 episodes a year. Tim Cook stars as the grizzled and wise CEO. Federighi plays the software developer/eye candy. Other top Apple executives round out the supporting cast. Siri plays the stupid but lovable dog.
I’d watch that.