Mac O’Clock
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Mac O’Clock

Apple just reinvented the genre of live events. Again.

Intro of the first all-virtual Apple WWDC keynote. Source: Apple.

End June 2020 Apple held it’s annually WWDC in Cupertino, California. For the first time, it has been kept 100% contactless and free for every developer to join.

And once again, Apple not just adapted to the given requirements due to COVID-19 distancing and holding the event as a virtual one — they redefined the scales for remote events. They, well: thought different.

Stanley Kubrick would love the footage. Source: Apple Keynote WWDC 2020.

And that’s not just because of the top-notch video production and camera. It’s also because of Apple not trying to pretend that presenters are talking to a present audience. Moving forward and back, up and down with drones, zooms and great camera shots through the all-new Apple Park, the stage is handed over multiple times from Tim Cook, to the product specialists and back. And that’s all done with an aesthetic that hasn’t been seen on a screen since Stanley Kubrick.

Kevin Lynch is presenting watch OS 7 for Apple watch. Source: Apple Keynote WWDC 2020

They don’t pretend to be serious, they take the whole presentation as a fun and easy thing, handling the “crisis” severe but not taking themselves too seriously. Make a fool of yourself while dancing isolated in the Apple gym while presenting the new Apple Watch features? Check.

Source: Apple Keynote WWDC 2020

They went that far that even all the presenters have been kept far away and isolated from each other, using Robo-cams.

The re-definition of tech events

Apple once defined the genre of tech keynotes with Steve Jobs famous appearances. The rest of the industry copied and made some minor adjustments here and there.

Since Steve passed away, Tim Cook did an excellent job in bringing in more interactivity, more diversity and a bigger team of speakers to the keynotes. But it still was an event for the audience in the theatre. A thousand fanboys sitting in the auditorium and typing live reviews in their MacBooks and tweeting.

Presenters needed to focus on that audience, so even with the live streams, they felt far away.

Now without the boundaries of the stage, they can address you directly, look in the camera and build a way better connection with the viewers, actually making you feel the presence.

One pivotal moment where it struck me how important the break-out-from-the-stage is, was when Tim Cook addressed the topic of racism and Apple keeping a firm stand on their diverse values. He was not on stage, but instead, we saw a backshot from the audience room, backlit by hundreds of spotlights.

Is it the time now to ditch live events?

Maybe. What we do not see in the streamings is the interaction that takes place after the presentations. The hands-on sections afterwards, the press rooms, 1on1s with the executives and just getting the “feeling” of the others at the event take a considerable part in the evaluation and appraisal of the announced gadgets.

Tim Cook is addressing racism during the WWDC 2020 keynote. Source: Apple.

But that doesn’t necessarily need to be at the same place and time when the main event takes place. You can handpick and gather people everywhere in the world in a more decentralized manner.

I’m sure we will see a lot of changes after this year and once physical distancing is no longer a prerequisite for health, which is at the moment.

But I’m quite sure: Apple started the revolution of tech events — again. And there is no way back.

I am looking forward to seeing how they will push it even further.

Keynote outro. Source: Apple WWDC 2020 Keynote.

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Richard Bretzger

Richard Bretzger

Remote Work, Leadership, Mindfulness and Technology. @ Stanwood Development & Consulting

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