Apple Fans asking too much from Macworld

by Chris Seibold Jan 08, 2009

The reaction to Macworld's keynote was less than enthusiastic. Some people blame Phil (who had an impossible task following Steve Jobs) but more people are placing the blame on the lack of anything even in the same ballpark as "must have" showing up at the keynote.

Those in the "it's Phil's fault" camp think that even though there wasn't an iPhone nano or must have Mac mini sincerely believe that if Steve had given the keynote he could of used his powers of persuasion to get people really worked up about, say, iWork collaboration. Those that maintain the lack of enthusiasm was more about the intros than the introducer point out that even Steve Jobs would have a hard time whipping up a frenzy over a $2800 MacBook Pro that is too big for easy travel, too expensive for the average home and was just a delayed addition to the last MacBook revision.

No matter where the blame lies, the Mac folks are upset. This will be the last Macworld that Apple attends and those that trekked to the Macworld's of old wanted the last Macworld to go out with a bang, not a slow limp and dressed in dull clothes. The thinking seems to be that letting something as great as Macworld slip away without some blow-out announcement is letting one of the best things about being part of the Mac community die a death with all the noise and action of snowflakes falling on a unfrozen pond. Somehow it just doesn't seem right.

The truth is that Mac users should get over this quickly because what they were asking Apple for was just too much. It is one thing to expect some huge product splash at Macworld when the previous year has been quiet. If the year leading up to Macworld had been full of incremental Mac line upgrades and a new iPhone model with more memory then expecting some earth-shattering thing to happen at Macworld wouldn't be too much to demand. Conversely, if the year before Macworld had been full of major releases, new business models and the like than it would be far too much to ask for Apple to crank out yet another great thing just to satisfy people who love to be surprised at Macworld.

Now is the chance to decide if Mac users were being unreasonable in their hopes for the keynote or if not enough has happened lately. So what did Apple accomplish since the 2008 keynote? A quick look back at 2008 will tell us what we want to know.

2008 brought a lot of Macworld worthy events. First the most obvious ones: the iPhone 3G and redesigned MacBooks (well, except for the 17"). But there was much more that happened in 2008 than the easily remembered stuff. Apple introed a new nano (long and slim instead of short and fat), cranked out a new cinema display, unleashed iTunes 8, went from iPhone app SDK beta all the way to the app store you know and love and, to top it all off, somehow Apple found the time to let fart apps into the App Store.*

That is a lot for Apple to crank out over a year, enough to sate the desire for newness of all but the most needy Apple fans. If all people wanted was something cool to show up at Macworld then the depression floating around Mac land is understandable but if Apple folks are interested in the big picture they should take a look at the great stuff coming their way from Cupertino for the last year and forget about Macworld. Any rational person would have a hard time arguing that Apple hadn't done enough.

*If there was one announcement Apple should have saved for Macworld it should have been the approval of Fart apps. Phil could've gotten a pop by bouncing around on stage screaming "pull my finger"


  • When a company constantly portrays itself as like no other, as better than everyone in every way, when the fans act like the company can do no wrong and that every product, no matter how banal, is the most innovative awesomeness every crafted by man or god, then expectations are going to be somewhat elevated.  Live by the sword, die by the sword.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jan 08, 2009 Posts: 2220
  • In the somewhat distant past Apple only made new product announcements a few times per year and almost always in conjunction with an event (Macworld SF, Boston, NY, Tokyo, WWDC, etc). That built huge expectations for these events because people knew that anything not introduced there wasn’t going to show up for months.

    Today that’s not true. Apple holds their own media events throughout the year to make announcements, but people (sometimes) have long memories and continue to think Macworld is going to be the place where the greatest products appear. Introducing the iPhone there was probably a mistake in retrospect because it made it look like Macworld was the only stage worthy of major announcements.

    Most of the expectations I read in the weeks leading up to Macworld were perfectly reasonable. The Mac mini has gone an astounding 17 months without an update and the other desktops are also due for a change. Any other hardware (iPhone, AppleTV, etc.) would have been way too much for one event. The iPhone nano was probably an intentional plant by Apple to find a leak because I don’t think an iPhone with an even smaller display would be practical.

    When Apple moved to Intel based hardware most reasonable people assumed that Apple would update their hardware more frequently than they had in the past because Intel has always updated far more frequently than Motorola or IBM ever did. Boy were we wrong. In the 38 month lifespan of the G5 tower the lineup was completely changed three times. In the 29 month life of the Mac Pro the lineup has only been replaced once. The iMac is only a bit late for an update, but the PC desktop machines the iMac competes against switched to quad core processors two years ago. Apple still doesn’t offer 4 cores under $2500. The Mac mini is an astonishing product. Only Apple can get full price for 3 year old components.

    Bregalad had this to say on Jan 08, 2009 Posts: 14
  • Why have a Macworld in a Physical location when Apple can post a Macworld Keynote on iTunes and everyone with an Iphone, iTouch or iMac can download it and watch it. Macworld ceasing to be a physical event is a by-product of digital technology. The same technology that had people gather there for the last 10 years. Strangely odd, that the reason everyone gathered annually for Macworld, the wonderful tech, was, ultimately, the demise of the annual gathering.

    mcloki had this to say on Jan 08, 2009 Posts: 25
  • Maybe the main reason the Mac faithful gather for Macworld has nothing to do with technology but just an excuse to party with other Macintosh users, developers and Apple big wigs. New Apple products and technology can be easily viewed at your local Apple store or on the internet, but it’s hard to rub elbows with Mac folks through your broadband connection.

    Flyboybob had this to say on Jan 08, 2009 Posts: 33
  • Well beeb I’d generally agree except I’m not so sure Apple does it so much as the company relies on others to tell everyone how great Apple is.

    That said, you’re absolutely right, if a company relies on positive media coverage that heavily when things are great expecting a free pass when you’re boring is asking too much

    Chris Seibold had this to say on Jan 09, 2009 Posts: 354
  • Just think back to last year.
    It was not a packed MacWorld Keynote, but for many weeks following Apple continued to release product after product.  It got to the point that there was a significant announcement each and every week.  This is simply a move by Apple to limit the impact MacWorld has and they will make many new launches happen in the coming week…....wait and see.

    Parky had this to say on Jan 09, 2009 Posts: 51
  • “I’m not so sure Apple does it so much as the company relies on others to tell everyone how great Apple is.”

    I included the fans in my comment for that reason.  It’s both.  The fans certainly get over-excited but I don’t think there’s any question that the culture is created and nurtured by the company itself.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jan 09, 2009 Posts: 2220
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