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Apple’s splashy launch events are so lame, says The New York Times

April 14th, 2021 at 10:26 PM
Apple event April 2021

Like many companies, Apple has deftly made the transition in the coronavirus era from splashy, elaborately stage-managed and in-person product showcases, for which writers from across the tech blogosphere gather to get a hands-on look at the new gadgets on offer, to virtual, highly-produced affairs that play out online, instead.

That’s set to continue come next week, when the iPhone maker holds a new virtual event on April 20 (the invitations for which include the tagline “Spring Loaded“) at which it’s expected to showcase updates for the iPad Pro, iPad mini, and AirPod product lines, among other surprises. The company sent out invitations on Tuesday for next week’s event, which is taking place as usual at the company’s Apple Park headquarters in Cupertino, California, with Bloomberg already teasing a bit of what will be revealed — including a new iPad Pro with a brighter LED display, as well as a new iPad mini with a larger display and smaller bezels. These events, as you can imagine, reliably generate a mountain of publicity for Apple — even though some advance New York Times reportage ahead of the event, however, has found a lot to complain about. The slant of a new NYT piece from writer Shira Ovide, in fact, goes as far as arguing that these product events really don’t need to exist anymore.

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“It’s time to end the elaborate staged events that are essentially infomercials for new technology products,” Ovide declares. “…Mary Kay-style demonstrations for the 400th edition of an iPad are clearly not the most serious problem in technology or the world. Most people will never even watch these things, thank goodness. But they are an example of how we and tech companies don’t stop enough and ask: Why does it have to be this way?”

Ovide goes on to lament the fact that the Steve Jobs-esque product demonstrations are reflections of how Silicon Valley giants, among the richest companies on Earth, see their customers. “To them, we are blobs with wallets that can be persuaded by the Silicon Valley equivalents of a fast-talking guy on TV hawking a mop.”

Is she correct, that these product events have all the manic energy of “an industry desperate to get noticed?” And that the events themselves have long since stopped being useful? I think the obvious answer is that a post summarizing each event’s announcements, which Apple always follows up every event with, just doesn’t cut it on its own — that, in other words, there’s a circularity to these things.

The Apple events convey excitement, which garners the attention of journalists, the public, and Apple fans, to such a degree that Apple probably can’t ever really not put on these showcases. Why are fans excited? To see what Apple’s going to show off next. Why is Apple hosting these events, to show off what comes next? Because fans are excited. And round and round it goes. Speaking of next week’s event, that reminds me … I actually need a new iPad.

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Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.

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