Thursday, 10 September 2015

Comfortably numb: Apple hyperbole is boring

Last week Apple announced their Autumn 2015 line of hardware. I avoid the live events these days, as they're a bit too sycophantic for me. The triumphalist tone is fine for internal corporate event, but for a public event it's a bit crass. So, instead, I skim various reliable news sources for the gist. Usually, the famous Jobs "reality-distortion field" is pretty effective, even since his death, and much of the press gushes with as much hyperbole as Apple itself. Not this time.

The mainstream sites are rarely, if ever, damning of Apple, but the levels of praise were distinctly fainter this year. Sure, it's an 'S' year, which is usually just upgrades to existing kit, but the point is that the hyperbole was full force and, yes, unwarranted.

Don't get me wrong, I love their passion for their work. I know the guys at Apple are feverish about the details. But not everything they do deserves the "incredible" or "epic" labels. There are refinements this year, but there's nothing new. There's nothing 'epic' or 'incredible', and to claim so is to dilute the power and impact of those prior triumphs.You can find other versions of all this stuff from competitors. Yes, Apple tech is probably smoother and more integrated but it also costs 50% more.

The trick of Jobs' reality distortion was to suspend disbelief, to maintain that fragile bubble of attraction and interest without over-inflating it with hyperbole. When the stuff wasn't ground-breaking, he'd still delight in it but would use words like 'neat' and 'cool', and avoid vacuous, overblown words like 'epic', 'awesome' and 'incredible'. I get the sense that Cook, Schiller et al are trying to press the same buttons, but it's mimicry rather than feeling.

There have been quite a few mock Apple adverts out there, like the Ikea catalogue.

It's almost like nobody at Apple has seen them. Or they have, but just can't change the formula.

So keep the products rolling, Apple, but please show a bit more sensitivity with your tone.