iPhone launch: The thrill is definitely gone

Apple threw its big iPhone launch bash and in spite of the tech industry's best efforts to whip everybody into a frenzy it fell short. Unlike years past, there wasn't much announced we hadn't heard before.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor
iPhone 5S
Image: Apple

Apple seems to have lost its way. The big iPhone launch event held today, formerly one of the biggest events of the year, fell a bit flat. In spite of the efforts of Apple and the entire tech industry in attendance at the event to convince us how exciting the launch was, it didn't work for this author.

Prior to the event I shared my belief that Apple was losing its iPhone launch magic due to sharing too much about upcoming iOS versions in advance. I still think that plays a big role, but I now think it's much more than that. The thrill about new iPhones has significantly waned for me.

Those of us involved in covering tech look forward to the new iPhone launch, in spite of what we might say, as in years past Apple has been able to shock us, surprise us, and delight us. This has been done through the absolute secrecy Apple has always maintained about the unreleased iPhones. We clamored for information, held our breath to hear every word of the announcement, and cheered with the rest as each surprising feature of the brand new iPhone was unveiled before us.

Given all the information on the web about the new iPhones prior to the unveiling, today's show was more of a confirmation event.

That didn't happen this year. When preparing to write this article I went back through the meticulous notes I took while following the iPhone 5S and 5C announcements. I may have missed some little factoids but I couldn't find any major detail about the new iPhones that we haven't already heard as rumors. Even some pictures of the new phones had appeared on the web that now seem to be accurate.

Details about the new iPhones, including the major new appearance of not one but two new phones, had been shared on the web for days. The official names of both the new iPhones were a known item before Apple "unveiled" them. It's as if the Apple secrecy machine has developed a lot of holes for details to spill out in volume.

Remember the frenzy that accompanied the prototype iPhone left in a bar and found by a patron, sold to a web publication, and then leaked to the public? That frenzy was so big because back then there was no way to find out much of anything about the new iPhone with any degree of confidence. That prototype might not have been the real deal but we didn't care, we ate up anything at all we could find out about that mystical new iPhone.

So what happened? I remember seeing a speech by Tim Cook announcing he was going to double down on secrecy to keep future products hidden from view. Under Steve Jobs Apple's mystique was amazing due to total silence about upcoming products. There were regularly accounts of false product teams working on fake devices to keep details about real upcoming products secret. Jobs would apparently go to any length to keep products secret, just to ramp up anticipation at the launch event.

That is completely gone from the iPhone event in this writer's view. Nothing surprising was unveiled. Given all the information on the web about the new iPhones prior to the unveiling, today's show was more of a confirmation event. And that is sad, as it pointed out quite distintcly how much Steve Jobs is missed at Apple.

Don't misunderstand me, the new iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S are quite nice. They represent a new model of having two iPhones each year going forward, and that's a big departure for Apple. Whether you think the new iPhones are big upgrades or incremental refreshes over the last iPhone, millions will buy them world-wide. Apple is doing things right with the iPhone, I just wish the thrill wasn't gone.

iPhone launch coverage:

Editorial standards