Friday, June 12, 2009

The Apple Hype Machine

You gotta hand it to Steve Jobs.

Apple’s presentation at its Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday offered nothing in terms of the kind of revolutionary products for which the company has become duly famous. No dazzling product announcements. No game-changers. All the company did, really, was announce that its two main products — its Macintosh computers and the iPhone — were going to be a) faster and b) cheaper. Isn’t that what every other tech company in the world announces on a quasi-regular basis? How is this possibly news?

Yet here was half the free world live-blogging, it seemed, while Twitterers were tweeting like crazy as the event ran on for more than two hours. And headlines appeared on the home pages of both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Why all the attention? Because Steve Jobs over the years has done such a great job of creating expectations at such events — expectations he often fulfilled — that now, even when there is no real news to report, everyone acts as though there is. Truly, the triumph of hype.

As for Mr. Jobs himself, he did not appear. He is still scheduled to return to work at the end of this month, according to Apple. Let’s hope this isn’t hype as well.