Has Apple lost its shine?

What did you think of the Apple iPhone 5 press event yesterday? Chances are you didn’t watch it. For those of us that did, it held few surprises. For the first time, most of the rumors were true and the news was broken way before the event. The presentation was mainly a confirmation of the specs, and as such rather disappointing. Sad but true, the biggest surprise was the Foo Fighters played this time.

The absence of a Jobsian ‘reality distortion field’ aside, there was nothing disruptive to announce. A slimmer, lighter, larger-screened phone; a connector with fewer pins; one map replaced by another; iTunes got bigger and more complex again; headphones, sorry earpods, with more holes; more colors for the Nano among others. It was evolution – and all good incremental improvements. But it didn’t wow.

We didn’t expect the iPad Mini, but secretly while the changes to the iPod range were unveiled, we hoped for it. Especially so hot on the heels of the Kindle Fire HD (which is the same price as an iPod Touch btw). Not a whiff of the hoped-for Apple Television (ok that was a very remote possibility but still).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on Apple. My home and office is jam-packed with iEverything. But from a comms perspective, can we ever expect another ‘wow’ conference? Can the biggest company in the world continue to control its supply chain from leaks? Some are suggesting that in the absence of Steve Jobs’ formidable wrath, that might be a harder task. At this scale with launches now in multiple markets simultaneously, it’s just logistically harder. The scrutiny on the firm is higher than ever, and arguably the company wants some of the features to leak so consumers hold out from buying a competitive product before the launch.

The fact remains the last two iPhone ‘events’ have been disappointing. Perhaps we’re now entering an era where the product launches are a journey, not a destination. Or rather a rumor mill, not a press conference.

[This post first appeared on my agency blog, LEWIS 360.]

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