Customer Number One

covered the awkwardness of Apple’s most recent keynote. Specifically, John zeroed in on the lack of enthusiasm shown by the presenters during software demonstrations.

One thing that I noticed about it–you say it went slow–I felt a lot of the demos, especially the software demos…seemed rushed….

If you’re used to the Steve Jobs era, he would have done the same presentation, but he would have picked either one application or a couple of features of two applications and spent what seems like way too long if you were to look at a stopwatch. Remember when Steve Jobs would get obsessed? Imagine if he had picked the slow motion feature in iMovie or the drums or something. He would do these in-depth demo of some obscure feature that tickles his fancy, but if you look at the clock, he’s going to sit there and play with the slow motion feature for five minutes? Are you kidding me?

But he was obviously so jazzed about this feature that he was showing. It was almost like watching a kid who was really excited. “I’ve gotta show you my toy! Look, check this thing out.” That enthusiasm, as corny as it might be, you could connect with it.

…Even the one [the presenters on Monday] tried to go in-depth for, “Look, you can use drummers and do this and isn’t this cool?” But when he says, “Isn’t that cool,” Steve Jobs would have been closing his eyes and getting into it…he would really get into it. You may not be into it, but you were convinced that Steve Jobs was really into whatever it was even if it was like, “Look at the wood on these amp cases in this UI.”

That was missing because these people were going through the features, showing them one after the other, maybe going a little bit in depth for one, but none of them…have been able to convince me that they are obsessively in-love with any aspect of these programs.

It’s a good discussion, and I recommend listening to the whole thing.

Steve loved making customers happy, especially Customer Number One: himself. His enthusiasm may have been “corny” at times, but he never looked like his delight was feigned or forced.1 He genuinely enjoyed these products because, for most of them, he was there every step of the way, ensuring they behaved exactly how he wanted because they were for him first.

I believe Tim Cook and the rest of the presenters seemed off last week because, unlike Jobs, they lack passion. Not passion for Apple–they’ve got that in spades. But they lack the all-consuming enthusiasm of an exacting perfectionist with a powerful love of technology who realizes he has a multi-billion dollar company building his dreams out of whole cloth. That can’t be scripted or manufactured or taught.

I have faith in the executives at Apple. They’ll keep the train rolling. But anyone who’s expecting future presentations to match those done by Jobs should put that idea to rest. The reality distortion field has a formula, and Apple is now missing a key element that can’t be replicated.

  1. Take a look at the introduction of the original iPad to see what I mean. Steve brought out an armchair and made people watch him play with his new toy, and it was awesome.