Should Apple stop holding its big launch events?

The big Apple launch event was made for Steve Jobs. But now that he's not around, should Apple think of a different, more modern way of launching its products?

There's a new Apple launch event in February. No, wait, March.

It will be the announcement of the iPad 3 . No, wait, it might be the iPad 2S.

For years now, the Apple faithful have allowed their nervous systems to respond to these excitements. For years now, the rumors have been even lengthier and more outrageous than the launch events themselves.

Yet, the whole purpose of these events wasn't merely to get the media, fanboys, and media fanboys fulminating. It was to allow Steve Jobs to use his enormous powers of make-believe in order to make everyone believe.

Now that Tim Cook is in charge, might it be time to find different, more surprising ways to launch Apple products? It's not merely that no Apple executive has quite the Jobs charisma. It's that the events themselves are in danger of following such a formula that they verge on caricature.

The events were made for Steve Jobs. But what now? James Martin/CNET

Some surely find these events a little like slightly enlightened Politburo meetings in which everything is approved by acclamation.

What if Apple decided on alternative methods for creating frenzy?

What if Apple simply emptied its stores of all products one night and left a sign in the window with just, say, a date and a price? You think the media wouldn't miss lunch and dinner in order to express its fascination? You think word-of-mouth wouldn't spread more quickly than news of a cat that can balance a beach ball on its nose while singing the greatest hits of Lady Gaga?

Or what if it sent texts to everyone in America telling them to get to their local Apple store or the Apple Web site in 48 hours' time in order to buy something more magical, more revolutionary than anything they'd seen? No more information. Just that.

Wouldn't that be a little more exciting than a group of varyingly dressed executives standing on a stage and offering hyperbole interspersed with a little humor?

And just imagine how long the lines would be, defying Samsung's mockery of this Woodstock-like behavior.

What if Stephen Colbert, the doyen of those still in contact with their faculties, announced that an edition of "The Colbert Report" would be renamed "The Apple Report"?

The whole show would be dedicated to the launch of whatever Apple product it might be.

Some would wonder whether this was real or otherworldly--which surely describes the Apple positioning perfectly. And imagine the magical, revolutionary excitement Colbert could engender in just one little show. Imagine, too, how persuasively he would present the product benefits.

Companies and products are in constant need of re-invention year upon year. The demands of lazy consumers, desperate for products that can make their lives even lazier, are such that frenzy almost becomes a prerequisite for a successful launch.

It might well be that the highly managed, slightly traditional events begin to pale in the public's perception, as competitors try and find novel ways to chip at Apple's emotional dominance?

So, as a slightly new Apple--under expressly fresh management--considers its next few years, might someone there think a little different? Might someone wonder whether launching a product can mean something more than holding a meeting and letting the rumors fly before it?

 

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