It has been two years since I’ve watched an Apple product launch. I stopped when my biography of Steve Jobs was published, just after his death, because I wanted to move on and not become one of those pundits who perennially proffered their opinions on Apple.
But I watched the video of the recent launch of the iPhone 5s and 5c because an updated paperback edition of my book is coming out and I’d agreed to do a few interviews. I wanted to be prepared for all those questions I’d been avoiding about what I thought of Apple after Jobs.
There’s a wonderfully talented team still at Apple, led by the coolly capable Tim Cook. But the event lacked Jobs’s spark, as did the products. Cook and his co-presenters used the word “incredible” so frequently that if it had been the magic word in a drinking game, the launch could have knocked cold an entire fraternity. So many things were described as “incredible” – from the ring tones to a rock show – that it began to serve as a reminder that none of them really were.
Jobs used to show us, every few years, the proper way to misuse the word “incredible”: by snapping our heads with a wholly new product that we had no idea we needed – until the instant he unveiled it as an indispensable object of desire: the iPod, then the iPhone, and the iPad. But in the past three years, Apple’s main innovations have been to add an inch to the iPhone, take an inch or so off the iPad, and take $100 off the iPhone.