This wasn’t supposed to happen. After Steve Jobs slipped away in 2011, Apple was supposed to slide into irrelevance. Keynotes would become increasingly desperate affairs as the post-Jobs product pipeline filled with me-too products and Apple lost its ability to innovate. The most extraordinary corporate comeback in history would come to an end, and Apple would once again become the underdog, an also-ran kept afloat by its cultish followers and ignored by the wider world.
Looks like Apple didn’t get the memo.
Web streaming problems aside, the Apple we saw last night was confident, maybe even cocky, and while nobody on stage was as good a showman as Steve Jobs, that didn’t matter. The products did all the talking – products that come not from Steve Jobs’ Apple, but from the Apple he hoped would exist after he died.
Tonight we saw Apple 3.0.
Watch this space
In the past Apple was a technology company that just happened to become fashionable. This Apple is very different. Technology is still at its heart, but when you look at its recent hires – renowned designer Marc Newson, execs from style-focused companies such as Burberry, Nike, TAG Heuer and Yves Saint Laurent – and the fashionistas in tonight’s audience it’s clear that Apple is more focused on fashion than at any time in its history.
There’s substance to the style, though. Look again at the Apple Watch and you’re seeing the work of other hires: medical technology experts, wearable sensor experts, fitness experts and sleep experts, not to mention stacks of talented engineers. Apple has struck partnerships with healthcare providers and insurers and, according to the FT, hired over 100 engineers and designers for its special projects division. To use Tim Cook’s favourite words, "only Apple" has thrown those kind of resources at a smartwatch.
It’s clear that many pundits underestimated Tim Cook. He isn’t Steve Jobs, but he doesn’t need to be: he’s assembled a whole bunch of Steve Jobses by hiring the best and brightest from all kinds of industries from industrial design to biomedicine.
No wonder Apple was so excited about tonight’s event. Steve Jobs might not have built this Apple, but I think he’d be very pleased with it. Or at least, he would have been once he’d fired everyone involved in the streaming snafu.