They used to line up days in advance for Apple product launches.
They used to pitch tents and then pay strangers to keep their place.
Now, they just put their names down on a list and wait for an email.
Perhaps it's a reflection of how the world has changed. Perhaps, too, it's a reflection of how Apple has changed.
Last week, Apple launched a product that just might make it a lot of money.
But where was the elation and ululation? Where were the lines and triumphant first purchasers, holding their product aloft as if they'd just won a division title?
Instead, anyone who put their name down to get notifications likely got a highly personalized invitation. I'm sure they leaped out of bed on reading it, had to tell everyone and even took commemorative selfies.
You can't really get all that excited about the Apple Card, can you?
It's not merely that it's, oh, a credit card. It's that it's a credit card with very few truly distinguishing features.
Yes, it lives on your phone. Yes, you also get a, gasp, physical card made of titanium.
Look, though, at Apple's introduction video and you feel a dense weight descend. What else can you feel on hearing it's "the only credit card to take advantage of the power of iPhone"?
What does that even mean? How does that even express anything that, in a strange sunken dream, you've ever told yourself you wanted?
To celebrate the launch, Apple didn't release an expensive ad featuring people dancing at the mere prospect of being anointed by Cupertino as being creditworthy.
Instead, Apple's YouTube page was filled with explanatory videos. Who wouldn't be riveted by "How To Get Support With Apple Card"? Or "How To Make a Purchase In-Store With Apple Card"?
You can imagine, though, that by getting into the slightly grubby business of credit cards, Apple expects to add substantially to the parts of its quarterly report marked "services."
Not so long ago, heady optimists dreamed that Apple would create a car. One worth driving and not made by Elon Musk.
Now, Apple fanpersons are supposed to get excited by double-clicking their iPhone to turn it into a credit card?
The mere thought that your precious gadget is now merely a piece of plastic is a symbol of how fond dreams of Apple hardware have now been turned into the grim realities of Apple software.
Actually, talking of grim realities, here's something from the truly soulless side of grim. It appears that the Apple Card is now being associated with subprime lending. How low can this go?
By launching its credit card in this way, devoid of humanity and humor, Apple seems to be conceding that you can't buy a thrill these days.
Just as putting the iPhone down on a bar used to be an alluring, egotistical statement, so did slapping down a fancy platinum credit card in order to pay for a piece of ugly, overpriced jewelry.
Now, you're supposed to wave your iPhone at a terminal, stare at your phone for a second and the transaction is complete.
Where's the romance in that?