One more thing… Apple’s Keynotes are stale and predictable

The iPhone X (and 8) launched at yesterday’s Apple Keynote Event or an event to unveil the “future of the smartphone” as they labelled it. Apple events have historically been watershed moments in Apple’s future and masterclasses in product marketing, or at least they used to be.

Unfortunately, this event was more like an old band getting back together where they play the same old songs but some how it doesn’t have the same effect. That and they’re doing emoji impressions.

Apple don’t yet seem to have fully removed themselves from Jobs’ shadow.

Make no mistake this comes from a place of love, we all own Apple products. It just feels like they used to have more of defined vision.

So, what made the Keynotes so groundbreaking in the first place? Well showmanship for one, that delicate balance of charisma, pacing and phenomenal films. Along with presentations that don’t lean on text for the audience to read. They also did a great job of pulling out the product features and explaining them (whether new or not) in a way that would make people sit up and listen.

It also helped that past products revolutionised entire industries.

The problem is whilst yesterday’s keynote was not without merit, we’re not convinced that Apple’s recent events still carry the impact and revolutionary ideas they once did. Therefore, we decided to tear down the iPhone presentation to find out where Apple hit their marketing stride and where it fell flat.

We dissect elements of the iPhone launch to see how effective their marketing effort was. Hold on to your cringe glands – we’re going in.

The Pitch:

The central theme to yesterday’s keynote was how they are going to change your life. Really? This is where Apple’s rhetoric is starting to get old. The lack of self-awareness is steadily becoming a parody. Everything is “all new”, “revolutionary” or “a huge innovation” – you’re talking about emoji’s Phil, calm down!

The problem stems from the diminishing returns in relation to how the iPhone is evolving. Realistically, you can buy a phone from any major manufacturer and you’re gonna have a great time. The flagship phones all take great photos, boast great user interfaces and look fantastic. So describing something as a “game changer” when everyone else already has similar features rings a bit hollow. Certainly not worthy of being termed “the future of smartphones”.


Then there is the people on stage. This year everyone lacked charisma and you’re kidding yourself if you think charisma isn’t important in marketing. Just look what happens when you don’t have it:

Look, if you’re getting onstage at an Apple Event of course you’re going to be compared to Steve Jobs, nevertheless the current cast is pretty uninspiring.

The tone of voice and format they continue to use is getting stale. You could have very easily swapped last years presentation with this years and you’d barely be able to tell the difference.

Side Quest: Next year play Phil Schiller Bingo – Every time he says: incredible, beautiful, revolution, magical, amazing, and you’re gonna love it. We counted 13 incredible’s just in the iPhone section of the event. This also doubles as a great drinking game.

It’s these set-pieces that Jobs used to demonstrate the technologies they develop.

Anyway, the recipe for a product reveal is as follows: Some suit comes out with his shirt untucked and tries to tell us how to use an emoji- can you even imagine Steve Jobs making emoji’s “the next big thing”?

How long has it been since Apple showed you something that actually made you say “holy sh*t”? Which is a shame because there have been some genuinely landmark moments at Apple Keynotes. Think: “Hello World”, taking the MacBook air out of an envelope, the iPhone unveil, and lets not forget the iPod launch. There was nothing of that magnitude at the beginning of “the future of the smartphone” you need to turn up with something BIG.


Alright, the slide deck and their designs were top notch. Everyone knows the marketing tip: Don’t use too much text in a presentation, it’s not easy when it comes to executing. Apple’s slide deck was used to great effect either reinforcing a key point just covered or rounding up a gamut of features and tech specs.

They also punctuate the presentation with demos which is a great way to keep the audience engaged. Always be prepared though, because if it can go wrong it probably will. Just ask Craig Federighi about the time he tried to show off the iPhone X’s “1 in 1,000,000” Face ID feature.

Top Tip – One clever detail they add that seems innocuous but adds a huge level of polish is their slide show animations. When showing a video instead of having a big dirty box with a video in it, ruining their beloved aesthetic. They divide their videos into layers and then cut out the background of the video so that they can show the action without sacrificing their signature look and feel. That’s marketing.


In all fairness this is an open and shut case, no one does marketing video and photo like Apple. From the production values to picking concepts that embellish the finer points of their products, they’re class leading. That and the right music – every time.

What was once quintessential ‘Apple-ness’ has come full circle as pastiche.

Like just go watch the videos, you’ll get it.

Though we do have one gripe and that is Jony Ive’s voice-over work which is now the *height* of parody. We couldn’t make this point any better than the guys in this video.

So Where Does That Leave Us?

Apple’s rhetoric and stance is starting to get old, especially in light of the way the tech industry is starting to converge. We get it you’re trying to live life after Jobs but he prized individuality so take his cues and go be your own brand.

They do a dis-service to themselves when they try and tell us that animoji’s and looking at my phone is “the future”. Anyone can make those technologies. Apple got famous by making what others couldn’t. They should get back to doing exactly that.

It was not all bad though – I mean it, go study their videos. Apple did begin to let slip how it’s going to evolve over the next few years to match the cultural shift in desires. If you want to know how they’re doing that, we’ll tell you. Although you’ll have to wait. We’re releasing a white paper soon on the next era of marketing and brand proposition.

It’s the future of marketing.