Steve’s Next Trick

by James R. Stoup Jan 08, 2006

Dying is easy, comedy is hard. So is public speaking for that matter. A point that Bill Gates & Microsoft et al seem to continually forget. Anyone read about Microsoft’s recent presentation at the CES? No? Well, you didn’t miss much. Apparently not only was it boring, but the presentation about Vista was so exciting, people were actually leaving before it was over. And, of course, Gates and friends talk up Vista, their often delayed, OS X rip off, of an OS like it was this revolutionary product. To get another look at the Bill’s big presentation during the CES read through this NY Times piece.

Apparently Gates was trying to be as interesting as with his keynote as Jobs is during a Mac Expo. He failed. What was I just saying about comedy and public speaking? Oh yeah, both are hard. Real hard. And yet, that didn’t stop Bill from giving it his all during the CES. And yet, he failed miserably. Why? Well, he isn’t much to look at, and he doesn’t have Steve’s flair for the dramatic. And while he does have a special field around him, it doesn’t distort reality so much as suck the life force from your body. Oh yeah, and he is an amazingly dull speaker.

So, as the Job’s keynote draws closer everyone is holding their breathe, speculating like crazy and dreaming up possible new products each of which is more wild than the last. And why does this happen each year? Well, part of it (a large part) is due to Job’s amazing ability on stage. He is an actor and presenter without peer in the business world. In fact, had he gone into Hollywood he probably would have done very well. And of course one can never discount his reality distortion field. But in spite of all of that there is still one thing that he needs in order to really sell it.

And that of course, is a really great product. (or products as the case may be)

Navigate over to and read up on Apple’s influence in the industry. It is quite impressive that one company is able to affect so many industries to such a degree, isn’t it? With every MacWorld, Expo or “Special Event” industry mongols collectively shudder in fear at what new toy Apple might unveil next. This phenomenon is perplexing as it is amusing to watch. And yet, there is a down side.

Brett Arends of the Boston Herald put’s it nicely. He (correctly) mentions that with each Mac event their stock rises. And as the stock rises expectations become larger and larger. Right now they are so large that Jobs has to unveil something revolutionary because anything else will be seen as a disappointment and their stock price will suffer.

Seriously, what could Steve possibly announce that hasn’t already at least been guessed at? I have heard everything from the mundane (speed increases for the current Powerbooks), the ludacris (50” super duper HDTVs), the hopeful (Intel iBooks), the confirmed (iWeb), the almost-kinda-realistic (WiFi iPods) and everything in between.

So when one counts up all of the current rumors the number is rather astonishing. How will he top it? How will he surprise us? How will he change the industry this time? Am I the only one who notices that tech pundits no longer say how Jobs might influence the industry to how he will influence the industry? That speaks volumes to Apple’s creativeness. And in spite of these huge hurdles I am sure that Jobs will roll out onto stage and wow us all over again. He will indeed change the state of the industry (for the better I imagine). He will, shake things up, release new products, make a ton of money and then do it again in 6 months.

And yet . . .

Amazing as he is, I sometimes wonder, how many tricks does he have left? How many more miracles can he create? If you have stock in Apple you are hoping the answer to those questions is “a lot”. If you are MS or Sony, well, you are just screwed.


  • While everyone has their guesses & preferences (mine if the Mactel PB) the one thing that we can’t guess is the new, elegant design that Mactels will be housed in.  J Ive & Steve J have undoubtedly been working hard to bring us something that will stun us and shortly having us reach for our credit cards, competitive OEMs quickly reaching for the antacids and the news media going mad with content.

    The nuts & bolts will be interesting, but rumors have pretty well covered that.  It’s going to be the design that captures the momentum - just like with the iPod nano.

    MacKen had this to say on Jan 09, 2006 Posts: 88
  • The reason why Jobs is succesful and Gates & Co boring is that when Jobs is done with his presentation, the product is available worldwide the next day/week. I endured through the webcast of the MS presentation and fel asleep - it was so boring. But much as Gates’ vision of the future digital world was interesting, we all know it is exactly that (vapourware in the FUTURE). Apple delivers immediately and that is what makes me sit-up and take note of Jobs’ show.

    nascar had this to say on Jan 09, 2006 Posts: 5
  • Nascar, you’re right, but the showmanship is arguably more important than the availability. You can’t deny that Jobs is able to play the crowd to an extraordinary degree, compared to Gates who has a life sucking field (well put by the way!) instead.

    Benji had this to say on Jan 09, 2006 Posts: 927
  • Ben Hall - totally agree his showmanship is important. He constantly talks of something/feature being COOL and uses terms like “press this button and BOOM” and even though I personally find these terms irritating (ito language), I am nevertheless enthralled by his presence on the stage, selling/demonstrating his wares. I can only imagine how he would have presented the “Gates vision of the future”. We would probably all have gone out and pledged our credit cards to Vista/WindowsFuture….

    nascar had this to say on Jan 09, 2006 Posts: 5
  • I have to disagree where you suggest Apple are running out of innovation. I think Apple were very secretive about their new products but since 2003 there were becoming more and more leaks, but ever since that lawsuit I have noticed the ‘actual insider’ knowledge has died down so much all that’s left is forum members to rumor up things amongst themselves. Which is what I think has happened for tomorrows Macworld.

    Apple come up with the most wildest and completely brand new ideas, and will continue to for a long time. Just because there has been a lack of leaks this time around, don’t assume it’s because Apple have run out of product ideas wink

    Luke Mildenhall-Ward had this to say on Jan 09, 2006 Posts: 299
  • I expect Apple stock to take a big hit no matter what Jobs announces. It boggles the mind, but not really. Many of the stock holders are just looking for a quick buck—what investor isn’t, really? Unless Apple’s announcements are that outrageous, the stock will be lower.

    breuklen had this to say on Jan 09, 2006 Posts: 31
  • I’ll be reading about Jobs’ keynote and ignored Gates’ because Apple delivers high quality revolutionary products while MS at best knocks off a crappy copy of everyone else’s. Apple’s got the mojo and there is nothing MS can do to compete, sadly enough (after all, competetion is good for us consumers).

    Emil had this to say on Jan 10, 2006 Posts: 10
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