#010 - Off Topic Thursday: Apple Keynote Event Reflections
Published on: 15th October, 2020
Igor and Robert nerd out on the recent Apple Keynote Event from October 13th 2020 and share their reflections about exceptional production value, new products, and Apple’s evolution as an organization.
Igor Geyfman 0:07
Man, Apple event yesterday pretty crazy.
Robert Greiner 0:10
Yeah, the keynote, virtual keynote.
Igor Geyfman 0:12
I remember, this is probably:
Robert Greiner 1:52
Yeah, that's definitely a risky run, when you might even be world class at something. But the relative skill difference between you and the person that just went before you is massive.
Igor Geyfman 2:03
Robert Greiner 2:03
And it kind of makes you look like a dope, even though you're not.
Igor Geyfman 2:06
No, he was great. And going after any other CEO in any other context, he would have been wonderful, going after Steve Jobs during the iPhone presentation at an Apple keynote, really hard act to follow. And I realized this and I would always just take notes, you know, how does he structure his presentation, how to see unveil things is very famous, one more thing that he would do at the end, the way that he presents and paces things really just incredible. So I studied those a lot. And there's a big shift when he got sick. Big shift, when steve steve got sick, more people were starting to be involved. You know, before it was the Steve Jobs show, and he was presenting all the stuff and he would hype it all up. And you know, now you had Phil Schiller, and Craig Federighi, and some of those other folks, right, that would be presenting things. At some point, Tim Cook started to join and present things, and when, uh, you know, really became clear that he was going to be the next CEO. And you know, then you had a keynote where Jobs was absent, you know, he was so sick. And then, sadly, a couple of keynotes later, he wasn't with us anymore. And, and the apple keynote has really evolved since then, but not much. The mechanics of the keynote, still very familiar. There's a stage where the presenter would go up on stage, they would unveil some, you know, next product, they would talk about their progress and key features, and all those sort of things. And I'm gonna say, you know, some of the magic of the Steve Jobs era of Apple keynotes was gone. But it was, they're still very good.
Robert Greiner 3:42
I kind of like what you said around Steve Jobs. It's not the same, but he's left his imprint on it. And it's left space for Apple to evolve, to be more decentralized in the presentation to not rely on any one person. But it ultimately has that really tight polish and flair and multiple angles, and really just outclasses every other kind of virtual performance that we've seen to date.
Igor Geyfman 4:10
And, you know, but I still compare it to the Steve Jobs era, because it's what happens. Apple still hasn't had a breakthrough product since Jobs has passed. Right? The last breakthrough product was probably the iPad, people might say it's the Apple Watch. But I just don't think that it's been the breakthrough product that you know, the iPhone, or the original Mac, or the iPod, or even the iPad has been.
Robert Greiner 4:33
I think I saw a statistic where Apple is like one of the world's top watch manufacturers now, which is crazy in such a short amount of time. And I do like how integrated the watch is into the apple ecosystem. But is it a breakthrough product? I don't think so.
Igor Geyfman 4:49
I was really just blown away. And they've now done this, I think three times. You know, they've had three keynotes since the pandemic has started, which has prevented them from getting a bunch of journalists into an auditorium. Going up on a black stage and presenting things off of a keynote behind them. Right? Like they can't do that anymore. And so pushed them into, like, what the heck can we do? And the one that just happened yesterday was the third. And I think it now has helped them break away, and I no longer needs to compare their product unveil sort of keynotes, to what Steve Jobs used to do. They've now, it's not an evolution, right. It's just it's a complete rethinking. Because they were challenged by the constraints of quote that what people are calling the new normal, right. And what's interesting to me is that everyone's challenged in the same way. And I'm gonna go back to, about a month ago, whenever it was the two national conventions from the big political parties, you know, arguably, there's a lot at stake for both parties. And they had to present and do these things in a virtual way. And it felt like they were produced by like a high school audio visual club. I mean, it was almost like shameful.
Robert Greiner 6:02
And this goes back to your analogy of the CEO that came on from Singular, right after jobs, right. So Apple has absolutely set the standard for how to curate and create and execute an event like this. And everybody should be doing what you were doing early on, and taking those notes and figuring out how to steal whatever they can from that method, because what we're saying is your digital virtual event was terribly produced, compared to a world class organization like apple. And that is where, like you said, everybody is facing the exact same situation. But companies like Apple, for instance, are absolutely thriving through this. And you see, you can really start to see the difference in quality, and craftsmanship across the board. Because now it is so front and center.
Igor Geyfman 6:56
You're so right. And I think it's like one of these like lemon lemonade moments. And I've gone on Twitter, I went on Twitter yesterday just to research this topic. And just to get sentiment because that's this is the way that I felt. My feeling and the general feeling, I think is people don't want Apple to go back to their old ways of presenting the products. Like people really love the new produced virtual presentations, and they don't want to go back to the stage.
Robert Greiner 7:23
And Tim Cook is like the MC now. That's right. And at the very end, he sorted like it was really, I don't know, if inspiring is quite the right word, that might be a little too, a little bit too much. But he kind of told you what he told you, he was in that sort of all glass room, and outlined, it's like, hey, homepod, we care about your security, and just kind of went into, we're really excited about building products that make a difference in your life. And I believed him, which was, which was nice. Like it was a good feeling as a user of their products, that somebody there cares about how I'm personally impacted by the tools that they build that I use, but it was cool, yeah, to see like different stages and different techniques of presentation. And you had the the home sets where you could see how the home pod would integrate with your life. And it was a much more immersive experience. And the interesting question is, could they have done that with Steve Jobs still around? And the level of control and focus on that singular person? Would he have been able to decentralize like Tim Cook did because I'm with you, man, what what I saw yesterday was on another level, and I think will inform how Apple curates and orchestrates these events into the future.
Igor Geyfman 8:45
It's pretty incredible. And I spent a lot of time geeking out on the technical production, parts of it. It was these transition points where you go from set to set. And I'm watching the transition. And in my head, I'm like, how the F did they do that? Like, I don't understand how they're able to get this shot, and I'm trying to piece together, I'm like, okay, you know, did they 3D render all these things, and then have a sort of 3D camera fly through everything was like, No, they, they didn't 3D render this, you know, it's like a drone shot. It's got to be a drone shot and right. And so it's like, oh, did they use this programmatic, like drone method, like they had to create their own sort of setup for that, right? Like, that's not available in a production model, so it was just even just trying to figure out like, how did they technically achieve the shots and these transitions? Um, it was pretty incredible. At first I thought it was all green screen. But then as you like, watch the shadows and stuff on the floors. You're like, no, that's not a green screen. Like they're doing this live in the sets. And, and so then it's like, whoa, how did they solve all these other problems? Just pretty incredible from a production design standpoint. And I was like nerding out the whole time, not just on the content, but but also on like, how did they technically achieve this?
Really, really awesome.
And they found that balance to have flash and pomp and circumstance and showmanship and then went right into, like, here's all the details of all the core technology and specs that we're putting into this. And it was a really nice way to come in and out of the products. And I had a similar thought when when Tim Cook was in that big room, I'm like, Ha, there's hard surfaces all over the place, like how does he sound so good. And just even the shots when they show the apple headquarters at night, and you just have like a few people walking around in them to show a little bit of movement, but it's like, it seems even that seemed like choreographed and really intentional and thought through, which might not have been, it might have been a total accident, but they really, to your point had it all come together. And they sweated the details big time
Really showed. And just a really great example of having these unforeseen constraints thrown on you and responding to them in a such a way and being ready as an organization to respond that now I just want to keep watching the new style of product presentations from them. I don't want them to go back to kind of their old school. Now it seems outdated. Right? You go back and you watch the other presentation, you're like, isn't that quaint?
Yeah, yeah, for sure. And one thing I wanted to add to it, and we hadn't talked about this yet, but you know, anyone who's listening, if you own a mutual fund, in any kind of retirement account or brokerage account, if you have a 401k, you are invested in Apple, actually quite a bit. If you just have a broad, low cost index fund don't a lot of that allocation is an apple. And for me, sometimes I like to think about oh, you know, as a part owner, as an investor in Apple, how does this make me feel the decisions that they're making. And it was cool to see more distance behind the curtain than just Steve Jobs to your point, you get to see people who are engineers and product specialists, and they're the ones that have worked on the product. And they get to come and talk about it. And it was really cool to see that that breadth of coordination across the company. And I'm like, Oh, I feel like I understand a little bit more about Apple as an organization now. Even though I know it was curated. I know it was highly scripted. It was still cool to see more than one person. Right?
Yeah. And I mean, they really blown out of the water. You're not kind of mentioned that. In the post Steve Jobs era, you know, you started to see a lot more people on stage presenting things, but it was sort of a rotating cast of maybe five characters, right? So you'd see Phil Schiller, when John Ive was still there, you'd see Johnny Ive, when Scott Forstall was there, you'd see Scott, right. But now, like, I can't keep track of all the people who are presenting, and there's so much closer to the product, they're passionate, they've got their hands in it. And it's really awesome to see their energy for what what they're creating, and then out affects people's lives. And it also seems much more inclusive. And it gives a lot more opportunities for everyone to shine, not just a handful of executives at the top who, you know, may or may not be that close to the product.
Yeah, and how many organizations are completely dependent on a few core people and when they go, things fall apart, right? That happened to Apple once already. And now, if you take this one event and extrapolate that out, it's like, okay, well, I don't think the survival of Apple is dependent on any one person. And it just there's so much talent and passion and skill there. That I think they could really take things to the next level, which seems crazy, given their size. But that's, that's a heck of a way to scale into whatever's next for them.
Yeah, you know, I continuously feel better about Apple, you know, I know I gave him, I gave him a bit of a hard time at the beginning of our chat around not having a breakthrough product. You know, they're real big breakthrough, I think for the last year or so, is focusing on their services model. And, you know, their hardware ecosystem allows them to have all this service income that's associated with it. And you know, maybe they're no longer dependent on a breakthrough, one breakthrough device, like the iPod or the iPhone, you know, they're now more adaptive because they're able to just augment their ecosystem both from a hardware perspective. new devices, they don't have to be groundbreaking, they just have to work well, and all the services that run on top of them, right, I think that's a much more sustainable adaptive model. And, you know, as, an apple shareholder, I'm much more excited about that as far as financial outcomes, than if I were sitting back and waiting for them to hit the jackpot with the next hardware device. Because that's a hard game. You know, Apple has done it more than most. But to believe that a company could continuously do something like that, I don't know if I have enough faith in any company to do that,
Well, especially if you're so reliant on that model, and then you have one flop that could really set you back. And so there's a diversification of revenue streams, and things like that, that are all, as someone bought into the apple ecosystem. They're all beneficial to me, like I want more of those things, not less. And so it really helps Apple as a firm, and also provides more value to their customers. And so yeah, I'm a big fan of that model as well.
Robert, now, the big question, you know, we both watched the keynote, what product or feature had you the most excited? And are you warming up your American Express.
I like the Pro Max a lot. I'm really excited to see what happens with the mini and how that either takes on or doesn't. My wife is she's she's an iPad Mini user. She's got smaller hands. And so I think that's definitely something she'd be interested in next time. And it's so like, portable, and that that iPhone 12 like sort of commercial that they aired there was that better encapsulated, really what I was talking about where stuff was spilling on the iPhone, and they're just shaking it off. And it's just like, fully rugged and integrated, but looks looks really good and aesthetic is such a big thing for for you and I it's like packages all of those things together. And so the largest screen, the the Pro Max kind of like workhorse, full and SPECT phone is what I'm excited about. But I'm also really curious on on the mini as well, if I could give you two answers to one question. So what item are you, what product release? are you most excited about?
Phones have over time ballooned to pretty comical proportions, where they're really kind of like at the max level, they're kind of mini tablets almost. So, to me, the ideal phone was probably the iPhone five, which was the size of the new iPhone 12 Mini. So I think I think that's, that's going to hit a real sweet spot. You know, it's, you know, what is it? $700 something like that, right? So it's, it's in that magic price point where it's not over a grand. And it's it's a good device. Right? It's a good device. Um, so really excited to see what happens with the Mini. I'm in the same boat as you. Thanks for the chat. Robert, I'm glad we could catch up on our shared passion of Apple and keynotes.
Yeah, hey, the pleasures all mine. The thing that I like most about starting a podcast with you and Charles is this is something that we would have been talking about at at Ascension or Foxtrot or Starbucks. But unfortunately, still can't go there. So it was really good to sort of sit down and have some tea. I'm drinking black tea as well. So not coffee today. But it was it was great to sort of sit down and nerd out with you about this. And I like that we can we can still have these conversations even though we're not in the same place physically. So thanks a lot, man.
I loved it. Thanks.
Thanks, Robert. Bye.
That's it for today. Thanks for joining and don't forget to follow us on Twitter at Wanna Grab Coffee or drop us a line at [email protected]
Join us for weekly discussions about careers, leadership, and balancing work and life.
A podcast about all of the topics we discuss during our mid-day coffee breaks. We bring you stories, thoughts, and ideas around life as a professional, leadership concepts, and work/life balance. We view career and leadership development as a practice that spans decades and we are excited to go on this journey with you.