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It’s time to end the lavish staged events that are essentially infomercials for new technology products.
You probably know the ones I’m talking about. Steve Jobs or the current Apple boss Tim Cook, walks up and down a dark stage and holds a shiny plate of circuits to an enthusiastic audience. Apple teased one on Tuesday planned (virtual) event next week to set the stage pace for the latest iPads.
Mary Kay style demonstrations for the 400th edition of an iPad are clearly not the most serious problem in technology or the world. Most people will never see these things, thank god. But they are an example of how we and tech companies don’t stop enough and ask: Why does it have to be this way?
Apple’s influence has spread these staged product launches – and they’re largely oversubscribed and unnecessary. Elon Musk does it for Tesla cars and Brain implants. Media companies have loaned this trick for hours of presentations for your Plus Sign Video Streaming Services. Advertising through a website is really a step too far.
The Jobs-like product demonstrations are also an unintended signal of how tech companies view their customers. To them, we are blobs with purses to be convinced of the Silicon Valley equivalents of a fast-talking man on TV bargaining a mop.
My biggest problem with these elaborate commercials is that they conflict with today’s technology. It’s no longer limited to one shiny thing in a box. Technology is now that Things we don’t necessarily notice – smarter software that alerts us to dangers while we drive, or technology that 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. And yet, tech companies continue to launch new products with the manic energy of an industry that desperately wants to be noticed.
What’s the alternative? Well, Microsoft on Tuesday has published a blog post that described the latest model of its Surface laptop and other products. Spotify has also posted about on its website The new experimental device resembles a modernized car radio remote control.
The posts explained what the products were, and that was it. Perhaps you have the line “This Meeting should have been an email? “Microsoft and Spotify have shown that most product launches should be a blog post and a two-minute video.
This is old hat for Apple too. And on Tuesday it did what it did forever: It posted an intentionally vague message about what is expected as a canned webcast presentation. This achieved the goal. People interested in technology have spoken about it.
And of course, that’s one reason these tech Tupperware parties endure: they get attention. ((At least for Apple.) Journalists like me are also a big part of the problem.
But we can just stop doing that. Microsoft and Spotify’s products seemed to be noticed and described on Tuesday even without a two-hour hype machine.
These product launches are a stale habit that festers long after its usefulness ends. It shows a lack of imagination by companies to be resourceful and a disrespect for us customers. It doesn’t have to be like that.
Before we go …
Bitcoin is real now. Congratulations / I’m sorry: Coinbase, which can be used to buy and sell Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, publicly listed its shares on Wednesday. My colleague Erin Griffith explained what Coinbase is and why it is listed on the exchange is a validation for believers in the cryptocurrency. (I’ll be talking to Erin about Coinbase in the newsletter on Thursday.)
Is Facebook doing more harm than good? The Guardian has published a number of articles on how Facebook is being used by world leaders in countries such as: Honduras, Mongolia and Azerbaijan mislead and manipulate their own citizens. It’s a familiar story from Facebook that gives citizens a voice and silences them.
Vacation planning becomes exhausting: My colleague Brian X. Chen has a special pandemic issue of how to use technology to prepare for a trip. You will likely need to navigate your target’s virus testing rules and digital documentation for vaccinations.
Let’s all look at some pretty fish kelp forest video feed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
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