…it rose from the stage floor on a smoothly-rising and rotating pedestal, pinpoint spotlights hitting the phone and only the phone. The rotation of the iPhone atop the pedestal was in perfect sync with the rotation of the iPhone projected on the big screen at the back of the stage. There’s no store where you buy such pedestals; Apple designed and engineered it specifically for this event. It was on stage for about a minute.
Yo-Hans-Gruber is overly-impressed by this pedestal, which seems pedestrian on its own and inadequate in context. (The sentences are also stylistically disastrous, but I think it may be time to let that go; if he wants to pepper his prose with versions of the verb “to rise” and chunks of textually-worthless repetition like “the phone and only the phone,” it’s his business).
One must assume that someone at Apple told him —bragged?— about this pedestal; had his attention not been drawn to the achievement it evidently represents, mustn’t he have reacted as an ordinary person would have, that is, with indifference or criticism? For this is a typical pedestal; they aren’t uncommon; I have even, I think, seen pedestals rise from stages. At the least, I’ve seen similar things rise from stages; nothing about it seems in principle or practice difficult.
It does in practice seem pointless, however. This event, for some collected press in the US, is also the world’s introduction to the iPhone 5. Their first glimpse of it occurs at impossible distance, particularly given the resolution of the keynote video. If one were in the audience, perhaps one would have felt some sense of interest or excitement: “There it is, too small to see clearly or to admire or even probably distinguish from iPhone 4, but there it is!” Was the pedestal necessary or important to this trivial effect? No: Schiller might have simply held it. Could this have been done better? Yes, I think so: put the phone clearly on the screen at once, and do not divide our attention with an imperceptible physical unit in front of a video.
Hans-Gruber’s hysteria about the spotlights and such is bad enough, but what can we make of his awe at the “perfect sync” achieved by teams of Apple engineers (working from architectural Jobsian meta-code) between the pedestal rotation and the iPhone 5 on screen? It seemed unimaginable to me, at first, that the image projected wasn’t simply video of the rotating iPhone 5 on stage. They have cause to show live video regularly at these events, and have projected live video from the stage to the screen before. They dimmed the lights, too, but I have no real idea whether the video was pre-recorded. It’s hard to assess how well-synced it is, what angles they’re at, etc:
It’s not hard to assess the impact of the various presentations of the iPhone 5, however. When the Hans-Gruber Shock ‘n’ Awe Pedestal 5000 rises, there is silence, then laughter. Schiller laughs, too; it seems that for him, the joke is “this phone is so small you need to put it on the big-screen just to see it!” But of course: the iPhone 3GS on that pedestal would be too small for the audience to see, so it’s not much of a demonstration.
The audience laughter, though, sounds a bit awkward; there are some of those “whoo” sounds people make when they gather in crowds and respond to speakers, with chuckles here and there as people, you know, wait for the actual show and tell.
So: the pedestal sucks, the achievements it represents are dull to contemplate (“We had to get the motor to turn it at just the right rate”), the effects it had on the audience present don’t seem particularly desirable, and for the rest of us the thing was irrelevant, superficial, pointless, even an irritant.
Likewise, when Cook introduced the show-closing Foo Fighters, the screen rose and from behind the screen slid the band, on a raised dais that smoothly rolled to the front of the stage. Such stagecraft is one of the rewards Apple can reap from its $100 billion (and growing) war chest.
This “stagecraft” —and here let us ask: has Hans-Gruber seen a Superbowl halftime show? A broadway musical? A concert? A school play?— is “one of the rewards Apple can reap from its $100 billion”? Does Gruber sincerely think that in the old days, Jobs and Apple would have passed on a rising pedestal and a sliding dais because they were losing money? How much does he think these things cost?
Can he really believe that this is significant, costly, challenging “stagecraft”? Can he really believe that this matters at all, even in some mystical Apple-cultural sense? Does anyone know? Does anyone know or understand Hans-Gruber?
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- distorte said: Is this going to be one of those situations where, when Gruber acknowledges your posts about him, you will apologise reflexively and then self-flagellate?
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