Apple without Steve Jobs is like Cuba without Fidel Castro. In practice there's very little functional difference, but seeing someone other than that iconic figure make a huge announcement just doesn't seem right.
Nevertheless, tonight the new Apple CEO Raul Cas- Sorry, Tim Cook will preside over an Apple press event which will probably reveal the new iPhone. That slight wheezing noise you can hear is the ragged breathing of millions of Apple fanboys worldwide in an unhealthy state of anticipation.
Full disclosure: I am one of the four graphic designers in the world who works on a PC. There, I've said it. My choice of computer means I have to put up with contemporaries eyeing me with suspicion and incredulity before gushing about how Adobe Creative Suite on Mac is a pale grey Shangri-La. Never mind that the two are, at least in my experience, virtually indistinguishable.
As such I have a very low tolerance for excitement over Apple products, and so tomorrow's event is, as far as I'm concerned, a circus of mediocrity.
The BIG ANNOUNCEMENT is rumoured to be the iPhone 5.
I actually already have an iPhone 5.
In fairness it's not technically called an iPhone 5, it's called a Samsung Galaxy S II - but it does have most of the features that everyone expects the iPhone 5 to have. Indeed, Apple considers it so similar that they've managed to halt its sale in several EU countries. It seems Apple think they patented the rectangle, and the practice of arranging icons in grids.
Most of the rumoured features that the fanboys are getting sweaty about - a 1 GHz dual-core processor (manufactured by Samsung, as it goes), an 8 megapixel camera, a larger screen, 1 GB RAM and a super-slender build and very light weight - are things I've been using for months now.
LG, Motorola and HTC all have products on the market with a similar laundry list of features. Other manufacturers were quite literally doing it before it was cool. None of those products, however, come with a sense of self-satisfied, preening brand junkie.
If I sound bitter, I assure you I'm not; I'm on the spiteful side of couldn't-care-less. I'm just astonished by the thought that Apple might have a huge press release to announce a product which only just matches the high-end products already on the market and it gets international coverage in major news outlets.
The other announcement is rumoured to be the iPhone 4S - a slightly improved iPhone 4, at a lower price than the iPhone 5. It's a nice idea and will properly establish a much-needed two-tier society in the Apple-owning community, but surely nobody's going to travel a thousand miles and camp outside the Apple Store overnight to be the first person in the world to buy what many will view as the poor man's iPhone 5?
Actually, they probably will.
Apple are masters of branding. They've pioneered the art of taking pre-existing technologies and making them accessible to people with perfect eyesight who wear thick-framed glasses.
MP3 players before the iPod were strange bulky items owned primarily by strange bulky people; the original iPod was sizeable, but minimalist and well-developed and, to be fair, it deserved its success.
The original iPhone was the kind of technology that made you okay with the modern day not living up to the 1950s prediction of flying cars and robot butlers. We may still have to take the bus to work, but we can watch videos of kittens falling over while we're at it. The iPhone wasn't the first smartphone, but it did open the floodgates to the wonderful and bewildering array of choices we now have.
Buying the first iPad was a mildly better use of £430 than, say, throwing it off a bridge or nailing it to a wall, KLF style. But it was pretty much a proof-of-concept (the concept being that what people really need is a larger iPhone) with the iPad 2 being the finished product, less than a year later.
All those technologies were commercial, if not technological milestones and were worthy of excitement. But, whatever Apple's devotees might say, the iPhone 5 won't be a technological revelation, and today's announcement is merely a branding event.
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