There were two strong undercurrents running through today’s Apple event: the company’s past and its future. For starters, the event was held in a modern tribute to the past, inside the new theatre named after Steve Jobs.
Jobs himself started the event through an old audio recording. “One of the ways that I believe people express their appreciation to the rest of humanity,” Jobs said, “is to make something wonderful and put it out there …. So, we need to be true to who we are. And remember what’s really important to us. That’s what’s going to keep Apple, Apple.”
CEO Tim Cook then followed up with a moving tribute to his departed colleague and friend, saying, “It was only fitting that Steve should open his theatre …. There’s not a day that goes by, that we don’t think about him.”
Cook took us through a quick history of the ten-year old iPhone, then introduced the most forward-thinking iPhone of all, the iPhone X. There was a strong sense that the iPhone X was the apex of everything Apple had been working towards in the last ten years, which might explain the odd name.
The name X, as in ‘ten’ and not ‘x,’ doesn’t make sense if you think of it in terms of progression. Next to the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, it would have been more suitable to call it the iPhone 8 Pro, or the 8 Edition — or at the most, the iPhone 9.
But yet, they chose to call it the iPhone X, at the tenth anniversary of the iPhone. I’d wager the numeral X was named to declare this a landmark iPhone — there has nothing been like it before, and there likely won’t be another radical change like it in the near years to come.
And radical it is. As the first iPhone to ship without the iconic Home button, the iPhone X marks the biggest redesign of the iPhone since, well, iPhone. And the new shape looks to become as iconic as the old one was; already you can tell it’s an iPhone X from just a simple line drawing, just like you could with the first iPhone.
But the X doesn’t discard its heritage carelessly — the stainless steel frame brings to mind the first iPhone, which had a similar shiny rim. With Apple’s mastery of craft, I doubt that the resemblance is merely a coincidence. There’s history here in the X, not just the future.
Phil Schiller, SVP of worldwide marketing, wrapped his presentation of the iPhone X with another callback, this time to how Steve Jobs closed his presentation of the first iPhone. At the time, Jobs had ended with a quote from hockey player Wayne Gretzky: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” And that, Schiller concluded, is what iPhone X is all about.
Cook ended the event with a summary of past and future, referencing the audio recording of Jobs that was played at the start of the day. “We work really hard at Apple to create wonderful things, and we hope you’ll love what we’ve introduced today. I think Steve would be really proud of them.”
The biggest change to iPhone since the first iPhone, announced inside the new Steve Jobs Theatre. Today’s event was as much about Apple’s past as it was its future; honoring the company’s founding father by revealing “the future of the smartphone.”
I like coffee and cameras, but not together.