UPDATE: This post was penned before it emerged that Steve Jobs died today. While I don't plan to take this down, I should acknowledge that Jobs's passing is momentus because of the products discussed in the post and yet somehow they seem immaterial next to the very same.
I don't envy Tim Cook one lick yesterday. He's Lyndon Johnson to Jobs Kennedy. His only hope is that Jobs growths more mythical he can escape the Johnson analogy by creating his own identity.
I was not disappointed by Apple's announcement yesterday. iPhone 3 got an S version before 4 came out, so this is expected. But others are disappointed. They are spoiled by iPhone 4, the iPad, and iPad 2, the last being a hardware redesign in v.2, something that other products like the iPod Touch and iPhone did not see. They miss Steve. Cook was clearly more CEO than the black turtlenecked guru. The slides had more charts, more graphs, more numbers. It's subtle, but look at Jobs's slides. 1 picture. 1 sentence. 1 chart with 1 data point. There wasn't much more from Cook, but there was enough to get noticed.
Kottke argues that this was one of two types of announcements from Apple - the Unicorn and the Wheel. Jobs and the iPad was unicorn. This was more of the wheel. I tend to agree, but I have three questions. First, is it really true that there are two unveils from Cupertino? Certainly some are more magical than others, but even the 'businessy' unveils got an 'Ahh' response when Jobs did the talking.
Second, should Apple have tried for a unicorn on this one? On the one hand, you want to install Cook as the emotional head of this emotional brand. On the other hand, if you really made this about 'wow' and Cook failed, that might really be the worst of all possible worlds. So I think Apple played it a little safe - a point which I may contradict almost immediately:
Third, and perhaps most important, what Siri a missed opportunity for a Unicorn? In this case, I am left wondering about Siri - the voice command interface in the version of the OS. Was that a unicorn that Apple failed to sufficiently build up? And why is that? Are we expecting to be disappointed by Cook in the personality department? Is he actually not as inspiring? I know voice command is troublesome and has always been, but if it really works, isn't it just as magical as touch click wheels, tiny super smart phones, and tablet computing?