This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. You can register here to receive it weekdays.
It’s time to end well-choreographed events that are essentially commercial information for new tech products.
You probably know who I’m talking about. Steve Jobs or current Apple boss, Tim Cook, stepped into the dark stage and gave a series of shiny circuits to a passionate audience. On Tuesday, Apple announced a (virtual) event scheduled for next week to take the stage step forward for the latest iPads.
Mary Kay-style demos for the 400th version of the iPad clearly aren’t the biggest problem in the tech industry or the world. Most people will never even watch these, thank goodness. But they’re an example of how we and tech companies don’t stop enough and ask the question: Why should it be this way?
Apple’s influence has spread over these periodic product launches – and they’re mostly overblown and unnecessary. Elon Musk makes them for Tesla cars and brain implants. Media companies have borrowed this tip for hour-long presentations to their plus-sign video streaming services. Information about a website is really a step too far.
Jobs’ product demonstrations were also an unintentional signal of how tech companies viewed their customers. To them, we are blobs with wallets that can be persuaded by Silicon Valley equivalents of a fast talker on TV selling a mop.
What matters most to me with these complex commercial credentials is that they’re up against today’s technology. It is no longer limited to a shiny thing in a cardboard box. Technology is something we don’t necessarily have to notice – smarter software warns us of dangers as we drive or technology gives small businesses the power of Amazon. . It invades our homes and lives, for better or for worse.
Technology is also one of the most powerful forces in the world. However, tech companies continue to hold product launches with the thrill of an industry that craves attention.
What is the alternative? On Tuesday, Microsoft published a blog post describing its latest Surface laptop model and other products. Spotify also posted on its website about the new experimental gadget that resembles a modernized car stereo remote.
The post explains what the product is and that’s it. You may have heard the line, “Is this meeting supposed to be an email?” Microsoft and Spotify suggest most product launches should be a blog post and a two-minute video.
I’m not the first to write that the ubiquitous Apple tech product events need to take place. Even I’ve written about it before.
This is also the old Apple hat. And on Tuesday, it did what it did forever: It released a deliberately vague message about what was expected to be a boxed webcast presentation. This has achieved its goal. People interested in technology talked about it.
And of course, that’s one reason the Tupperware technology parties are so long-lasting: They attract attention. (At least they can do it for Apple.) Journalists like me are also a big part of the problem.
But we can quit doing this. Microsoft and Spotify products seem to get the spotlight and are heavily written on Tuesday even without the two-hour hype machine.
These product launches are an old habit that fades away after it ceases to be useful. It shows the lack of imagination of companies that are supposed to be imaginative and disrespectful to us, the customers. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Before we go …
Bitcoin is real. Congratulations / I’m sorry: Coinbase, which allows people to buy and sell Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, will list its shares publicly on Wednesday. My colleague, Erin Griffith, explained what Coinbase is and why its listing is an endorsement for crypto believers. (I’ll have a chat with Erin about Coinbase in Thursday news.)
Does Facebook do more harm than good? The Guardian has posted a series of articles on how Facebook is abused by world leaders in countries like Honduras, Mongolia and Azerbaijan to deceive and manipulate their citizens. It’s a familiar story about Facebook allowing citizens to speak up and keeping them quiet.
Planning vacations will be tiring: My colleague, Brian X. Chen, has a pandemic special edition of how technology is used to prepare for a trip. You will probably have to navigate your destination’s virus testing rules and digital documentation for vaccinations.
Let’s all take a look at some beautiful fish species on the kelp forest video feed of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
We want to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this newsletter and what you want us to explore. You can contact us at [email protected]
If you have not received this newsletter in your inbox, Please register here.