I watched Apple’s WWDC keynote several times, for one reason or another. I thought it was needlessly dis-jointed. Why? Three reasons:
This can cover a lot, but one aspect was detrimental: Transitions. The high number of transitions in this keynote made it hard to follow. Here’s a rough sense:
- Presenters: 9+
- Handoffs: 20+ (person to person, person to video, video to person)
- Formats: MC intros, MC transitions, subject matter walk-thrus, videos, slides, photos, endorsements (Drake), demos, etc.
- Videos: 5
- Product Groups: 5+
Too many. Each transition makes it harder to follow the basics: product intent, attributes, advantages. In total, they make it harder for the presentation director to piece together “one complete thought”, to borrow a phrase from Jimmy Iovine.
In terms of approach, the only weak point, in my view, was the Music portion. Jason Snell, on his “Upgrade” podcast with Myke Hurley, put it best:
Eddy Cue […] was giving us a demo of the music app. It felt like a presentation of a music service by people who don’t understand how to present services and so they just presented an app and showed the music service inside the app… Yes, we know how the music app works, but is the big story here that they revamped the music app, or that there’s a [new] music service backing it? It felt like, at times, that the music app was the story.
Direction (as in, from a Director)
Ultimately, the issues above are symptoms of weak (or hand-cuffed) direction. Not just in the form of what to do (e.g., don’t have Eddy Cue focus on the app) but also in terms of what not to do – i.e., editing. Editing in this context: shortening the list of presenters, directing them to use fewer slides (at one point, they flashed by like pages in a flip book), and saying no to distracting uses of humor and movement. When viewed through this lens, I think this keynote lacked a director. Or at least one that could effectively influence the senior executives and the choices they made. (Believe me, I’m not saying any of this is easy.)
Will all this impact the products’ success? Not directly. Indirectly, however, key influencers of consumers (developers, fans, and journalists) may get a fuzzier picture of Apple’s intent or advantage. They might also spend more time discussing stagecraft and less time discussing products. And that will make it a topic of conversation and monitoring the next time, too. Basically, distraction carries an opportunity cost.
By the way: I thought Apple’s newest presenters – Jennifer Bailey (Apple Pay), Susan Prescott (News app), and Kevin Lynch (Apple Watch; he’s still new-ish) – I thought they did the best job. They were focused, on-pace, used humor sparingly, and didn’t say or do things to take attention away from their main points.