As the annual Apple CEO Steve Jobs keynote at Macworld Expo San Francisco approaches, former Apple executive Mike Evangelist has some interesting insights into the studied power marketing maneuvers Jobs employs to tantalise the faithful.
Behind the casual appearance of the T-shirt and jeans Jobs doffs during his talks sits weeks of hard work and levels of complexity that go beyond the obvious, Evangelist confirms in The Guardian.
"When Apple announces something new, people pay attention", he writes, explaining that Jobs begins preparaing for these events "weeks in advance".
Even now, Jobs will be looking at all the products and technologies Apple is working on to decide which ones are ready for prime time.
Which products will make the cut?
This means that while rumour and conjecture suggest: Mac OS X 10.5, iLife O6, iWork 06, new Intel Macs, new movie services, new music services, new iPods, a Mac home media server and more may be in production, only certain items will make Jobs' final 'Steve-note' cut.
Evangelist explains how this works, drawing on information he has already published on his own website, with particular reference to his work on Apple's DVD-authouring products.A vital part of the Steve Jobs keynote is secrecy. "Once the rehearsals begin, security people help keep the curious out and the secrets secret. It was fascinating to watch,"says Evangelist. "No detail was overlooked: for example, while rehearsing the iDVD demo, Steve found that the DVD player's remote control didn't work from where he wanted to stand on the stage. The crew had to make a special repeater system to make it work.
"So when Steve steps out on that stage, with its stark black-on-black colour scheme, and does his apparently simple demos, he brings the combined energy and talent of all those people and many more back in Cupertino, California, and channels it to the audience. It makes me think of a magnifying glass used to focus the power of the sun on one small spot until it bursts into flames."
Rehearsal timeJobs rehearses for the two days before a keynote. First he works on the segments he feels need the most attention.
"The product managers and engineering managers for each new product are in the room, waiting for their turn. This group also forms Steve's impromptu test audience: he'll often ask for their feedback. He spends a lot of time on his slides, personally writing and designing much of the content, with a little help from Apple's design team," says Evangelist.
"As each segment of the show is refined, Steve and his producer edit the slides live on a PowerBook so the revised slides can be used immediately. Steve is very methodical, going through every aspect of the show. He would test variations of content and flow, looking for the combinations with the most impact. When introducing a major new product, he also liked to show the TV commercial Apple would be using to promote it. Often these had been finished just minutes before rehearsals; Steve would sometimes preview alternate versions to gauge the team's reaction before deciding which to use."
Striving for excellence
"All his energy is directed at making the keynote the perfect embodiment of Apple's messages. Steve doesn't give up much of his personality even in rehearsals. He is strictly business, most of the time," Evangelist reveals.
Jobs' focus drives the company: "It is one of the most important aspects of Steve Jobs's impact on Apple: he has little or no patience for anything but excellence from himself or others," Evangelist writes.