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Businesses Technology (Apple) Apple Technology

Steve Jobs' Macworld Keynotes, 1998-2008 108

Ian Lamont writes "The Industry Standard has put together a collection of video highlights from Steve Jobs' Macworld keynotes since his return to Apple in the late 1990s. It's interesting to watch. Jobs was basically able to turn tech product demonstrations into convincing consumer spectacles that made even the simplest product feature — such as the handle on the clamshell iBook — seem innovative and utterly desirable. And while his appearance changed greatly over the years (compare his 1998 iMac demonstration with his "iPod Mini" keynote in 2004, when he was reportedly trying to treat cancer with a special diet), his enthusiasm never waned. Of course, he may make appearances at Apple's WWDC or other events, but a Macworld expo with Phil Schiller headlining just won't be the same."
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Steve Jobs' Macworld Keynotes, 1998-2008

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  • by txoof ( 553270 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @06:51PM (#26294117) Homepage

    If 10 years ago you would have told me that a 40 something balding man in a black turtleneck could make consumer computer technology look svelte, I wouldn't have believed you. I still find it hard to believe today. For all the weirdness, secrecy and--reportedly--heavy handedness, Jobs does some amazing work highlighting the positive aspects of Apple's products.

    I think it's his confidence and an earnest belief that the product has been engineered to the highest standards that helps him be such an effective salesman. Bill Gates tried to capture some of that same humanity and enthusiasm in his Seinfeld commercials and somehow failed miserably. Perhaps it's Gate's lack of a publicaly accessible side. Or it could be that he's just a robot sent from the future.

    Whatever you think about Apple (expensive, overly trendy, defectivebydesign, overly lawyered, Lord Job's GIFT to his children), Jobs does a pretty amazing job of selling it. My girlfriend pointed out that during his introduction of the iPhone, he not only enumerated the features of the device, he also taught everybody how it works. That's a pretty deft presentation.

  • by Albert Sandberg ( 315235 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @07:12PM (#26294297) Homepage

    What do we know, perhaps he's doing his absolutely best to highlight the bad sides of apple products as well, just that there isn't really any in the field(s) they are operating?

    You don't buy a mac to run a server, you buy it to be creative, and I fail to see the drawbacks of such a purchase.

    I have still to own my own mac, but I probably will in the future, because everyone I know who bought one tells me how sweet they are to use, and why wouldn't I trust my friends? After all, what I've seen from it it delivers.

    Just having a hard time leaving linux, I guess I will have to multiboot :-)

  • by txoof ( 553270 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @07:38PM (#26294541) Homepage

    You don't buy a mac to run a server, you buy it to be creative, and I fail to see the drawbacks of such a purchase.

    That's exactly why I bought into macs. That and I couldn't bear to upgrade from XP to Vista with a new laptop purchase. I use my macbook for school (as a teacher) and I was doing all my photographic developing on it. I couldn't handle the terrible color consistency on the itty-bitty screen so I upgraded to an iMac. I do most of my school related work on the lappy and use the desktop for all my photography.

    I can't get away from linux though. I have a linux box running in the next room as a print/web/music server. It also manages all the local and remote backups. The darwin side of OS X is also pretty awesome. I get to pretend that I know what the hell I'm doing and hack around in the command line and feel like a sys-admin.

    As for the "bad sides" of Apple products, there's plenty that Jobs doesn't bother to mention. Like the iron grip Apple has on the iphone appstore, poor material quality on the macbook line (the keyboard deck and backsides are all cracking and crazing-mine has a razor sharp edge right where my right wrist rests). His strength is to make all the good qualities sound so sexy, you're willing to ignore those nasty ones. I sure did when I bought the 3G iphone. I love what the iphone does, but to be perfectly honest, my old Nokia 6000 series had a vastly better call quality and at a fraction of the price ($50).

  • by mr_josh ( 1001605 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @07:43PM (#26294583)
    Maybe I've missed the people saying this, but it seems obvious why Steve (yeah, we're on a first name basis) is stepping out of the picture. He's not going to live forever, nor do I imagine that he wants to remain CEO until his death.

    It seems like bad business practice (a liability?) for the fate of an entire company to be tied to one man, but there it is: people do not trust Apple to innovate sans Jobs. Rather than wait for the guy to drop dead or decide to quit. They have to start weening the public off of the idea that Steve Jobs sits in a big room, thinking up ideas that later become the products people crave.

    The fact of the matter is Jobs has brought an atmosphere and mindset to Apple that they'd been lacking for a long time. And while people are -often legitimately- prone to question how truly innovative Apple's products are, it's hard to argue that the hype is often legitimate, and they at least have designs that contain and lack just the right number of features with the right amount of polish for a majority of users, to the point where they are willing to pay a premium for the product.

    Separating the Steve Jobs from the idea that Apple is what has to be done, and it's going to be rough.

  • by linhares ( 1241614 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:01PM (#26294759)
    Look at how he manages to always bring up an US versus THEM mentality, which is highly reminiscent of religion. I don't think that it's actually some "clever marketing ploy" by Jobs--I feel the guy really obsessively strives for purity, always taking older stuff out and bringing some new stuff that has never been done before. This purity craziness makes some fantastic products, such as the iPhone, and others which are only conceptual, like the cube. My macbook air, for instance, was just sold to some other sucker. That thing is beautiful, but at the same time it is a concept machine. 80GB with no expansion? "Oh but that's the purity of it; nobody has a thinner notebook"....
  • by superskippy ( 772852 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:02PM (#26294769)

    Steve or no steve, the what-are-apple-bringing-out-next keynotes are a big tech highlight. They always get lots of news coverage- e.g. this piece!

    It mystifies why Apple have decided that they can be dispensed with. Dell would kill to have this.

  • Jobs = Marketing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:07PM (#26294813) Homepage Journal

    Just goes to show you what you can do if you truly believe in your products.

    Personally i think he's a pompous jerk and is often shortsighted, but I cant deny he's the master of marketing.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:26PM (#26295003) Homepage Journal

    that Jobs may be unique in that he has the skills to manage a major company, at the same time he really, really cares about the product. That's what comes across in videos; it's not that his keynotes have a great deal of razzmatazz, it's that they have conviction. That is the source of the famous reality distortion field. At the same time, he also brought classic management common sense to Apple, simplifying their product line to fit a well chosen market position, streamlining the manufacturing end of the business.

    I really think this combination is rare. There are lots of entrepreneurs who start businesses, to whom management is something they have to do in order to create products. There are lots of high flying managers for whom, at the end of the day, a company is merely a machine for efficient profit generation. I think Carly Fiorina at HP was an example of the latter. It wasn't that her ideas were, in a generic sense, bad. It's that she didn't have a sense for what was right, and more importantly, unique at HP. People see her as the manager that destroyed HP; that's not quite right. She is the manager who turned HP from an unique institution into just another big company.

    I suppose it may be that a more or less standard company is easier to run; you can get generic B school grads employing motherhood and apple pie practices and turn a normal profit, or with luck a tiny bit more. But while the process of converting an unique company into something easier to grasp, there is a spark of imagination and creativity that is lost.

    Whatever Jobs faults may have been, you can't say he was an ineffective or inefficient manager, nor can you say he treated the products of the company as merely profit centers. Apple is a company with personality, with a sense of uniqueness and mission, things which business plans give lip service to but usually aren't reflected in reality.

    Jobs is a manager for whom the details of a product matter. People snicker about the reality distortion field when the crowd goes wild when Jobs announces the iBook will have a handle, but I don't think they get it. Whether or not a handle is something a laptop ought to have, details matter. I wish other manufacturers had this attitude; they copy stylistic elements from Apple, but while the result may or may not look great, they still miss important details like managing the cord on the power brick, or the power connector itself.

  • Re:1997? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mike260 ( 224212 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:36PM (#26295077)

    Macworld Boston - that's the one. If the collection starts from 1998 then it must not include this one [youtube.com].

    Lol, the spontaneous applause whenever anyone mentions directors resigning tells a story in itself.

  • by phillymjs ( 234426 ) <slashdot.stango@org> on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:47PM (#26295173) Homepage Journal

    They're stopping because they're tired of having to have something to show off two weeks after Christmas when the alternative is getting hammered for not announcing anything exciting-- without the Expo, they are free to work on stuff until they feel it's ready to be announced; they don't have to rush to conform to the timing of the show.

    Plus, the timing of the show (which IDG is has apparently never been willing to reschedule) puts a dent in Apple's holiday sales... people who want to buy will hold off to see what new stuff gets announced at the Expo.

    Finally, Apple now has sufficient mindshare with the general public that they don't really need a big trade show presence anymore to garner publicity. I see headlines on CNN.com frequently when Apple introduces new/updated products, and not just during the Expo-- Dell and HP don't have that kind of coverage when they announce new stuff, and most of Microsoft's press is stuff they'd rather not see on the main page of CNN.com, like yesterday's Zune coma epidemic.


  • by FloydTheDroid ( 1296743 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @09:25PM (#26295489)
    Your post is right on the money. I always come away from Jobs' demos with the same confidence I get from one of my friends telling me about a product they love. He follows a very simple formula to do this. During the keynotes he'll be giving the usual product spiel that you would expect. But then he does a demo and shows you that it's not all talk. They actually have a working product which is simple enough for the CEO of a fortune 100 company to demo but it's also simple enough for your parents too.

    It's obvious that Jobs uses his company's product unlike those pesky auto execs who probably drive golf carts more often than they drive their classic European sports cars. Sorry, was that too bitter?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 01, 2009 @09:56PM (#26295709)

    I think that he cares about the product so much is a rare characteristic in CEOs. Most CEOs get on stage and talk about profit momentum and other accounting noise. Steve gets on stage and talks about the beauty of the product and how this changes people's lives.

    I remember reading a story about the development of the first Macintosh. Steve was haranguing a programmer to make the boot time faster. (Paraphrasing). "Imagine if you cut the boot time by 10 seconds. Multiply that by a million customers. You just saved 115 days of life every year." Most CEOs would have talked about how many more units would be sold.

    Whatever else you say about him that passion for the product is an outstanding characteristic.

  • by spintriae ( 958955 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @10:32PM (#26295985)

    You don't buy a mac to run a server, you buy it to be creative

    Are you kidding me? You BUY a Mac to BE creative? Anybody who actually believes that must not have a creative bone in their body if they don't understand that mindless mass market consumption doesn't fuel creativity. A painter buys a brush to express creativity, not to "be creative." And a truly creative painter doesn't need that brush, certainly not one with a shiny white logo on it. Picaso would not be more or less creative if you gave him a Mac instead of a brush, and giving him a PC instead of a Mac would have been outright irrelevant. The Beatles, who recorded Sgt. Pepper on 4-track tape, would not have been creatively hindered by using Cubase on Windows over Garage Band on OSX, even if they did get BSoDs everyday, which they wouldn't unless they were running Win98.

    DISCLAIMER: This reply was posted on a Macbook Pro, therefore, any independent thought expressed in this post could not have been expressed on a less creative hunk of plastic and wires and is therefore the copyright of Apple, Inc. © 2009 All rights reserved.

  • by Have Brain Will Rent ( 1031664 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @10:46PM (#26296105)
    Geez yeah, I mean how could an old dude make anything look good? Especially stuff like technology that only the young can really relate to? And a balding old dude at that? And 40???? Man that's beyond old that's ancient! The mind fairly boggles!!! Makes me think of the last line in the old movie Wild In The Streets.
  • by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <[ ] ['' in gap]> on Friday January 02, 2009 @03:12AM (#26297561)

    My God techies don't get out much do they...

    Ever heard of a company called NOKIA????

    Do you know what Nokia made before they became the Juggernaut that they are today? Rubber Boots, TV's!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nokia [wikipedia.org]

    The original CEO who transformed Nokia is long gone, but Nokia is still creating the products that they are.

    The key with Nokia and the CEO is that he instilled a new way of thinking. Think HP, and how they used to think and do things. This is exactly what is going on with Apple.

    Steve Jobs was Steve Jobs, and at times he failed. Think Next... And think some of the early products like Newton. But he stuck with his vision and instilled ideas. Now Apple has people who fulfilled that vision.

    Do you REALLY think Steve Jobs was the only thinker? Let me tell you about a secret about Nokia. There are several brainchilds there. These guys are completely eclectic and all they care about are design. I once tried to get one of them to speak at a conference and his answer was, "not interested..." I offered a keynote to him and he said, "naa..."

    There are those people at Apple, if only people went beyond the facade of Steve Jobs...

  • by Keen Anthony ( 762006 ) on Friday January 02, 2009 @04:33AM (#26297829)

    Without a doubt. It's completely in his personality, and he's always been this way. It's been said that everything with Steve has been about revolution and overthrowing stale paradigms. And likewise for Bill Gates, it's about the thrill of the victory. He's a nut when it comes to games like poker or puzzles. Neither of these guys care about money for the sake of money.

  • by Cannelloni ( 969195 ) on Friday January 02, 2009 @05:31AM (#26298021)
    I think that is a fair assessment. While I don't know what goes on in Jobs' head, I know he is almost fanatical about the user experience, some thing Microsoft and others only have a superficial idea about. (They still haven't figured it out, which is obvious to anyone who has been exposed to Windows Vista or seen the Windows 7 betas.) The way the users sees the product is the most important part. Second, Steve Jobs has built the Apple brand from an empty shell of a logo to a dominant player. Apple is now a leader in consumer electronics. Before Jobs, Apple was a small niche player, now it's about to go mainstream in a major way. But market share is not all that important to Apple, and I will try to explain why. The third thing, and the only thing that matters from a business point of view, is profitability. Apple is a VERY profitable business now. The company also has a cash reserve of about 25 billion US dollars. Profitability is more important then market share to Apple, because it means it has the freedom to go anywhere and be anything it wants. Something that will become apparent in the years ahead.

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern