is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
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.
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.
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.+