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Mobile Communications

On the Eve, Apple Faithful Pray for Ep-iPhone-y

It says something about the frenzied media attention surrounding the launch of a new iPhone that, as I write these words, the lead story on Techmeme is a piece that acts as a form guide on how Apple handles media unveilings of products. So we have a news aggregator about to be swamped by iPhone product details running a story on how that news is likely to be announced... and, for that matter, this article you’re reading commenting on the subject. Very meta: very meta indeed.

You can’t be too harsh on the press for obsessing over the iPhone and creating memes wherever the hall of mirrors of speculation, ‘leaks’ and opinion takes them. With the iPod, iPhone and iPad, Apple created an almost unprecedented golden run in the electronics business, a Holy Trinity of the new true faith in electrons and design changing the world. Along the way it reinvented music distribution, retail stores, media consumption, the dynamics of personal communications and created the greatest comeback of any company in history. It’s a story that might appeal to Roald Dahl or F. Scott Fitzgerald. Unlikely, absurd and requiring suspension of disbelief – and yet it happened.

But every plot needs to have periods of calm narrative progress lest the breathlessness becomes suffocating and, since the death of Steve Jobs, Apple has appeared to be a more everyday enterprise, its products accreting features rather than recreating categories. The noises off for this launch don’t merit too much excitement: bigger screens will make Apple a follower – and not even a fast follower at that. Smartwatches would garner more attention but the category is notoriously hard to crack.

But Apple’s almost unique ability to keep secrets intact means that it will have an audience waiting with an almost sickly sense of anticipation. This is technology’s version of Christmas: gaudy, overly lit, manipulative, commercially owned and yet carrying an ancient emotional tug.

Apple might not say that much (cue stories about how the Cook-generation firm has lost its mojo and falling share price). It might say a great deal (cue stories about how the Cook-generation Apple is in safe hands and too much was made of Jobs as totem). Whatever Apple does, however, the world will be watching, hoping for a new magic box of tricks, a move in mysterious ways that will illuminate the world and our participation in it in a wondrous new form.

 

Martin Veitch is Editorial Director at IDG Connect

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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