This article was first published on 2007-06-12. Due to the age of this article, it is included here for archive purposes only.
Boy, did that suck! Were you underwhelmed by the Keynote? I sure was. Where was the "Boom!"? Where was the "Insanely Great!"? Where was the "This changes everything!"?
For better or for worse, when Steve Jobs takes the stage, we are expecting to be blown away. Bring that Reality Distortion Field on! If you are a Mac fan, the keynote is kinda like waiting for the summer movie blockbuster to come out. We want to grab our popcorn, sit back and see what we’ve never seen before. Are these expectations fair? Of course not. He’s just a guy like you and me, right?. Well he at least puts his jeans on one leg at time. I think.
The biggest hurdle Steve faces coming out of the gate is that he hit a home run with the last keynote at Macworld 2007. I think it’s fair to say the iPhone blew everyone away, and the stock into the stratosphere. Of course we all want that same feeling of "I have to have that shiny thing!" that we had in January. But with nothing new to announce, and the iPhone launch less than 3 weeks away, he was handicapped before he even began.
Over Promised. The other challenge in expectations he faced was that a year ago at WWDC06, he alluded to features in Leopard that they needed to keep secret, or Microsoft would copy them. That just leads to a year of speculating on how cool those features must be to keep them from the grasp of Bill. A year of how Apple will be revolutionizing how we use Macs. And on top of that, with the iPhone, they really did create an almost new way of using a cell phone. At the least, it will be a monumental upgrade in cell phone UI.
So he just hit a home run last time in a keynote, and his appearance at D:All Things Digital with Bill was a sentimental hall of fame entry. This time out, he hit a single, or maybe even a sacrifice fly depending on your point of view. Anyone else should be happy, but Steve’s a slugger in this arena, so we are underwhelmed.
Under Delivered. So here’s what he had in broad strokes: Key game developers making promises (who cares until they ship). 3 new elements in Leopard and 7 warmed over ones we knew about. OK, the Finder has been taken over by the iTunes team. Nice to know the whole Apple UI is getting standardized. How long has that taken? 7 years? I don’t even call the Desktop redone. They beveled the corners of the Dock and put in reflections?! And give me back my opaque menu bar. WTF?! They reached deep into their patents pocket and pulled out Stacks. And Cover Flow and Quick Look give us a 4th and 5th way for reviewing documents without opening them. Do any of these Secret Features strike you as Vista-esque? These features add more complexity and visual flourish, but not with the utility commensurate with their design that we expect from Apple.
The problem just may be that Vista has lowered the bar for Apple, not raised it.
Next up: Safari for Windows. Who cares in this crowd? The only ones of us that will use it are Safari lovers who have to use Windows at work.
And finally: That Safari on iPhone will be AJAX compliant. Actually, as much as people are let down by this "One last thing…", I’m happy that it is at least confirmed. They have kind of dodged around how fully functional Safari on the iPhone will be up until now.
So what’s up with these last two items? They don’t really have much to do with the the key audiences for this keynote. Well, they are a response to 6 months of questioning how developers can write apps for the iPhone. And the answer is: make them run through Safari. Not what the developers in the room wanted to hear, but around the world, web app developers were given the "start you engines" signal. I think if he made this announcement to a Web 2.0 conference across the street, there would be cheers, but instead he heard the crickets and frogs.
Some may think these are empty announcements, but I think this clarity is actually helpful. And the Safari on Windows effort is just to appeal to a wider pool of web app developers. He just gave the development platform to all the Windows developers out there.
Now some developers are up in arms that they don’t have access to the iPhone’s operating system like they do on Macs. But really, I’m glad. Think about all the hoops and potential problems you have installing and maintaining programs on your Mac. I think I click into Activity Monitor several times a day just to figure things out. If Apple lets developers have a go with the OS, first they’d have to open up that Home screen to them. Do we want to scroll that screen of jelly Chiclets forever to get to our program? Apple is almost out of room on it as it is. What happens when my music is taking up all my memory? How do I find, open, copy and save files? Already, I’m wondering how that Notes app will handle it. I think that can of worms would be very deep indeed.
So let’s recap the keynote for the main 5 audiences:
Consumers Like You and Me: Nice to see the Greatest Hits again, but give me something new and shiny!
Wall Street: Nothing new to sell. Down 3 1/2%!
Media: "Apple Brings Safari to Windows!" (So easily distracted)
Mac OS developers in the Room: No iPhone for us, but at least we don’t have to redo our work for some super secret feature set.
Web Application Developers: Whoo-hoo. It’s our world now, baby!