Talking Apple Heads

Apple had a pretty big slate of announcements at today’s World Wide Developers Conference Keynote. For me, the hardware products and software features that debuted today are evidence that the Tim Cook-led Apple is not missing a beat; everything looks great.

Except for one thing: Apple’s product videos remain trapped in time, following the same format that their videos from the last decade followed: talking head shots of Apple executives as they wax effusively about whatever new product they’re introducing.

The Mostest

In and of themselves, each video is compelling and aesthetically pleasing. But having over the years watched what seem like dozens of these now, they’ve all begun to blend together. Their hyperbolic declarations — each video touts the newest, thinnest, fastest, most beautiful, most revolutionary etc. — now seem tired.

This isn’t because the products themselves are unimpressive, but because we’ve seen more or less the same faces rave more or less the same way about so many different products before.

Apple Videos

It’s a funny thing; you could repeat the same outlandish promises in advertising copy forever and it would continue to be effective. But if you see real people make consistently exaggerated claims again and again — especially if they do so in practically the same way — then you tend to stop believing them. In this Retina MacBook Pro video, for instance, I found Jonathan Ive’s assertion that this new product was “genuinely new” to be unconvincing, to say the least.

By some accounts, Steve Jobs’ true genius was in marketing. That discipline may be something that the Tim Cook-led Apple is underestimating. To be sure, most of the marketing that I’ve seen since Cook took over has been faithful to Jobs’ playbook. But like this video, the current strategy may be too faithful to the last chapter of that playbook while shying away from writing a new one.



  1. These videos aren’t really meant for consumers, to be fair. While they’re available on the MacBook Pro information site (I believe), they’re not usually highlighted or focused. I think Apple does these because they love to talk about what they’ve done more than anything else. While it’s true they’re becoming repetitive, I think you might be reading into this a little bit too much.

    This is the team’s chance to sit in front of a camera and gush about their work. If you’re not sold on the MacBook Air from the specs, the photos, seeing them in person or the consumer-facing TV ads, these videos aren’t going to sway you–and I don’t believe they’re trying to.

  2. Garrett: I really doubt that those videos are only for the staff. An indulgence of that kind sounds distinctly un-Apple.

    What’s more, I wouldn’t say that they’re usually not highlighted. In fact, like the video for the Retina MacBook Pro, these videos are almost always front and center on the main page for the product — which is essentially Apple’s brochure for what they’re selling. It really seems obvious to me that they’re for consumers.

  3. I, too, find these videos to be a little overindulgent. I also cringed at the number of times the word beautiful was used in the keynote. Let the feature speak for itself. I certainly didn’t need the “convincing”. However, I am bummed that Siri is not coming to the iPad 2 .

  4. For what it’s worth, I enjoy these videos. It’s one of the very few times I get to listen to Ive talk about his process. If the man gave out more interviews perhaps I wouldn’t be so keen to watch these.

  5. When watching this video, my sense was that Apple wanted to demonstrate continuity in its creative and design process. Steve may be gone, but the same guys we’ve been seeing for years are still hard at work.

  6. Khoi, I think your observation is spot-on. (And your montage of the three heads, and their shirts’ shades, is perfect: apparently, “Hair Force One”’s hair has to make good for the other both.)

    However, the video’s staleness might be related to the fact that Apple’s products, especially the Macbooks, somehow seem to enter the dead-end of a sort of “classicism”: I think their designs are great and, more importantly, a pleasure to use—still, more and more they tend to be frozen in the conception of their own perfection. What else after unibody, flash memory, desktop-like speed, noiselessness, a gorgeous screen?

    The detail about the “asymmetrically positioned blades” (of the fans), together with the graph of frequency distribution, I truly liked, though—and I found it convincing, too!

  7. Hans: I agree, the “asymmetrically positioned blades” was a great detail that I found convincing. In fact, I wish the video was more of that and less of the talking heads, though of course the talking heads do the important job of making the emotional pitch. They just need to do it in a more novel way.

  8. “To create it (the new macbook pro) we rigorously questioned the ways we designed and built our portable products in the past”

    The fact that it looks stunning would have been enough for me Johnny but thanks for the extra effort and concentration!

    That screen grab sums it up for me…he obviously thinks about these things shit loads.

  9. The only place I disagree with you is “…everything looks great.”

    Great unless your aging Mac Pro desktop needs a refresh. The new Mac Pros are barely changed from the 2010 models, which were barely an upgrade over the 2008 models.

    I’m hoping this means that there were delays in the channel somewhere and the real Mac Pro refresh is coming later in the year…

  10. “To create it (the new macbook pro) we rigorously questioned the ways we designed and built our portable products in the past”

    Erm, am I the only person that’s noticed the design of apple products have barely changed these last few years?

    Oh the pro has no media drive now, and what’s that? The magnetic power adapter has a new shape… WOW.

    I love my 2011 macbook air, but Apple has gotten boring and pretty stale, and all those revolutionary new features in iOS6 are so basic. They’re still just introducing features that have been in Android for years.

  11. One thing I have to add is that, while they prominently play these videos during keynotes, they do, as you mention, go on their website, where they are viewed by scored of potential customers. Most of them haven’t watched it (or previous product videos) as many times as those of us who read about Apple all the time. Many of them have probably never watched one before. My mother, for example, were she looking for a new laptop, would go to, see this video and probably be very impressed.

    I do agree that they could change it up more regularly, though.

Thank you! Your remarks have been sent to Khoi.