Welcome to our weekend Apple Breakfast column, which includes all of the Apple news you missed this week in a handy bite-sized roundup. We call it Apple Breakfast because we think it goes great with a morning cup of coffee or tea, but it’s cool if you want to give it a read during lunch or dinner hours too.
Why wouldn’t Apple hold an October event?
Like the Chicago Daily Tribune splashing DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN on its front page in 1948, the modern-day tech writer constantly risks being made to look foolish by unfolding events. So I ask the sympathetic reader not to judge the following words too harshly if Apple, in its usual infuriating manner, decides to send out event invitations sometime next week.
As you read this, however, such invitations have not yet been forthcoming, and with half of the month gone, time is beginning to run short for an event in October. (Invites normally go out roughly a week before the event, which means at the very least we’re looking at something significantly later than the October 18 and October 13 events Apple has held in the past two years.) And if Apple doesn’t hold an event in October, that’s probably it for the year.
If 2022 ends with no further Apple events, we can’t say we weren’t warned. Late last month the widely respected leaker-analyst Mark Gurman prepared the tech world for disappointment by predicting that Apple was “more likely to release its remaining 2022 products via press releases” simply because they weren’t exciting enough.
“None of these new products is a major departure for Apple,” he explained. “That has me thinking: Does Apple really have enough here to make it worth pulling together another highly polished launch event?”
There’s a certain logic to this rationale, and it’s possible that Tim Cook has decided against an October event for precisely these reasons. But I do wonder if a dull event is worse than no event at all.
The first point to make is that Apple’s events these days do not (necessarily) require the huge logistical operations of years past. Since the pandemic began, the company has shown itself to be proficient at virtual events, and many of us actually prefer them. Organizing a virtual event certainly isn’t effort-free—just look at the high production values of the videos, which require time and money to make—but you don’t need to coast journalists and partners across the globe, or mobilize enough catering to feed a small village. It’s a comparatively low-resource venture.
And what do you get in return for that relatively modest outlay? Publicity. Eyeballs. Buzz. Anticipation. The opportunity to stand on stage with the tech world watching and introduce your products in exactly the way you want. Apple has the best marketing operation in the world. But it still needs a platform.
So the new Macs and iPads might not be a groundbreaking step forward. But they’re still important, and Apple still needs to sell them. The best way to do that is by grabbing the customer’s attention and doing your best elevator pitch, not by hiding it in a press release. There must be something interesting about the new products, so focus on that. Tell us about the progress of macOS Ventura. Give us a sneak peek of the next Mac Pro. It’s your meeting, Tim. Grab the microphone.
Because ultimately, what’s the worst that can happen if it’s less exciting than the iPhone launch? Maybe more people than usual turn off the stream before the end. (Though the ever-present prospect of a One More Thing makes that highly unlikely.) Maybe there are some unkind memes on Twitter. (That happens anyway.) Maybe there’s a moderate rather than a huge spike in purchases. (The holidays will erase all that.) All of these worst-case scenarios are better than the alternative universe in which no event happens at all.
I can think of only one consequence that’s worth worrying about, and that’s losing your audience in the long term. If you’re the boy who cries wolf, and the wolf turns out to be a minor iterative upgrade on the previous wolf, maybe the villagers won’t listen next time.
It’s possible to imagine a world in which this happens, but we’d have to be talking truly elite levels of tedium. Because Apple’s audience is remarkably durable, and between you and me, it’s had lots of boring events in the past. Last year’s iPhone launch wasn’t exactly a humdinger. In 2020, the company held an astonishing three events across the autumn, and we saw no evidence of reader attention flagging. Google the phrase “boring Apple event” and you’ll see how many times the company has been perceived as dull in the past, without perceptibly losing its relevance.
No, this looks to me like another case of all upside, no downside. I’ve argued in the past that Apple should host significantly more events, not fewer, and this autumn is a case in point. Come on Apple, announce an October event!
And with that, we’re done for this week. If you’d like to get regular roundups, sign up for our newsletters. You can also follow us on Twitter for breaking news stories. See you next Saturday, enjoy the rest of your weekend, and stay Appley.