Apple’s new-product videos have become as famous as its devices. But not necessarily in a good way.
Let’s just say they’re a bit predictable.
You know the routine: Jony Ive and assorted Apple leaders appear on a white background, gushing over the product to someone off-camera, with occasional cutaways to beauty shots and explanatory graphics.
The format has been repeated so often, it’s become the standard for parody videos by pros and amateurs alike. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but the flattery part ran its course after the first five years.
So it was with great joy that I watched Apple’s latest product video — which is actually an old-product video.
The Mac 30th Birthday piece is all about a computer, but the story isn’t told by Apple people. We hear it from those who have used a Mac to have impact in this world — each speaking from a different perspective.
There isn’t a white background in sight. The speakers appear in their natural habitats, which are colorful and interesting. The music is really good. There’s energy in the edit. It feels honest and authentic.
For this special occasion, Apple wouldn’t even dream of applying the musty old format.
Well … new product launches are pretty special occasions too. Yet the world’s most un-formulaic company continues to crank out formulaic product-launch videos. How come?
Some may not remember, but there was a time when Apple wasn’t quite so rigid with its new-product video format.
For certain launches, it would sign up known personalities, pledge them to secrecy, let them live with the product, then shoot testimonials on location. We’d hear these people describe in their own words how the product would change their lives — instead of listening to Apple leaders on a superlative high.
[Update: thanks to Lester Nelson for pointing to a good example in the iMac G4 launch video.]
Honestly, I can’t recall if these videos were accompanied by the “standard” product video. Possibly. But that alone says something about which video was more memorable.
Imagine how different it would be if Apple broke the mold for its next product announcement. For an iWatch, perhaps?
Instead of Jony Ive talking about purity of design, what if we saw an assortment of interesting outsiders — from sports, politics, art, music, technology, whatever — talking about how the new device allows them to do things they couldn’t do before?
It would be a more heartfelt, more seductive introduction.
Sorry, but it’s just a fact of life: it’s always more effective to have others sing your praises than to sing them yourself.
As far as I can tell, there’s only one reason this doesn’t happen today: it would break the format.
For a company that thrives on creativity, that’s not a great answer. For a company that employs great creative people, it’s a squandering of resources.
Like many, I would be ecstatic if Apple’s next product video made me go “wow, cool” — as opposed to “good lord, not again.”
All that aside: Happy Birthday, Mac. Look at you, all grown up.