Apple plays the media game as well as anyone. There’s a rigorous cat and mouse game of filing patents, trademarks, and domain registrations, fake images, rumors, leaks, and misspoken (or are they?) comments in public forums. Each of these manage to whip the public into a frenzy of anticipation which can last for years. But add to this equation, the ravenous fans, bloggers, and tech pundits, who all keep the ball rolling, and it easily enters a completely new level of crazy.
Then the day of reckoning arrives (as it did Wednesday), and perhaps the stock dips and the feedback is mixed as many fans quickly turn on the company that they revere. I get it — we’re all so smitten with the genius of these products we use all the time, that we expect nothing but perfection from Apple. But as the anticipation builds, over time, the “requirements” of the consumer outpace what may be logical or even feasible. And then what happens when reality doesn’t live up to the expectations we’ve developed in our heads (and on our blogs)? An empty feeling of disappointment following Steve’s unveiling.
History has shown that these frustrations and feelings of discontent will generally dwindle with time. Sometimes it’s with the first hands-on experience, and sometimes it’s a slightly longer road as the new thing (the ‘MacBook’ name, for instance) becomes familiar and accepted. The problem as I see it, is that the more time we have on our hands to wonder, the more creative we (by ‘we’ of course, I mean the Internet) get with the things the mythical device might do.
Think about it, we didn’t even know if Apple was actually developing a tablet. For at least a couple years there’s been much talk and guessing that it would, but we really didn’t know for sure. So people start thinking about what an Apple tablet would look like, what it would do, and so on. From there, the creative juices start to flow, and the list of specs and possible technologies spin quickly out of control. Sure, I would’ve loved to have seen a camera on the iPad. It also would’ve been pretty neat if it had some sort of proximity awareness of other iPads. Or if it functioned in a way that brought my home media viewing system together — that would’ve been ideal.
But take a step back and consider what Apple did: It now offers a great middle device for doing the simple things that a majority of computer users need, for only $500! As an aside, some close friends pined for a MacBook to replace their aging iBook, but they couldn’t justify it because the iBook was nicknamed “The Email Checker.” Now for only $500 they could pick this up and browse the web casually, use Facebook, and do the simple tasks that their somewhat outdated (and slow) machine does for twice the price. I for one think that for what it is, the iPad is going to be spectacularly successful.
And then there was the lack of any mention of the iPhone SDK 4.0 availability, Aperture, iLife, and on and on. But think about what this event was — it was the release of a new product from Apple. It’s something never before seen by 99.999 percent of the world. Steve doesn’t want to take away from the hype with anything if it doesn’t directly impact his new offering. Perhaps we’ll see or hear evidence of some of the aforementioned software in coming weeks as the iPad buzz subsides, but yesterday’s event was not the forum for such things.
So a couple of days later, we’re beginning to come down from the Apple event. For some it’s been everything they were hoping for (and did I mention, for only $500?!). For others, frustration and disappointment. But listening to the rumor mill and pinning our hopes to those wild, and largely unfounded ideas is what made it hurt the most. Maybe we should stop that. I enjoy the rumors as much as the next guy. But perhaps it’s time to reign our technolust in just a skosh and enjoy the ride.