Steve Jobs was one of the greatest business storytellers of our time. Apple executives clearly agree and do their best to adopt his presentation style.
Apple's HomePod is the company's new entry in the smart speaker category, but the June 5th keynote was a throwback to Steve Jobs' best presentations. And that's not a bad thing. Steve Jobs created messages, designed slides and delivered presentations that were second to none.
Apple's presentations continue to be brain-friendly: understandable, memorable and entertaining.
The introduction of HomePod shared several similarities with Steve Jobs' launch of the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010.
Surprise the audience
Steve Jobs was known, of course, for ending his presentations with "One more thing." It was the big reveal and the most noteworthy announcement of the event. In his presentation at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, CEO Tim Cook returned to the stage after a series of product announcements including new iMacs, Macbooks, iPad Pro, and an updated operating system. With 17 minutes left, Cook kicked off the introduction of HomePod by announcing, "Now we've got one last thing..."
Summarize the key message
Apple marketers spend a lot of time getting the product messaging just right. The executives repeat the key messages on stage during their presentations. A new product typically 'reinvents' a category.
During the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, Steve Jobs said, "Today Apple reinvents the phone." Ten years later, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced, "We want to reinvent home music."
In both presentations, the words are flashed on a slide as the CEO delivers the message. The only words on Tim Cook's slide were: Reinvent home music. It's an excellent method of reinforcing the one key message that you want your audience to remember.
Explain the problem in need of a solution
When Steve Jobs unveiled something new, he did so only after explaining the problem with current products or technologies. In 2007, Jobs said the problem with current smartphones was that "they're not so smart and they're not so easy to use." Jobs showed several smartphones from competitors and highlighted their weaknesses.
In 2010, Jobs argued that a new device like the iPad that fits in between a smartphone and a laptop would have to be better than both those products at some key tasks such as:
- Browsing the web
- Enjoying and sharing photographs
- Watching games
- Reading ebooks
In the HomePod presentation, Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said a 'breakthrough home speaker' would have to do "a few things really great." For example, it would have to:
- Rock the house (raise the volume without distortion)
- Be spatially aware (adjust audio to fit the room or space in which it's placed)
- Come with a built-in musicologist (technology to help consumers discover new music)
Revisit Apple's history
In a Steve Jobs product announcement, a walk down memory alone preceded the reveal. Revisiting Apple's history helped to build the case that it was the best company to develop such a product. In 2007, Jobs built the case for the iPhone. He said,
"In 1984, we introduced the Macintosh. It changed the whole computer industry. In 2001, we introduced the first iPod. It didn't just change the way we all listen to music. It changed the entire music industry...Today Apple reinvents the phone."
Tim Cook took a page from the Steve Jobs playbook. Before bringing Phil Schiller on stage to introduce HomePod, Cook began:
"Music has always been a part of Apple's DNA. We first revolutionized the music industry with iTunes. Then we forever changed the way people listened to music on the go with iPod...But what about our homes? We think we can do a lot to make this experience much better. Just as we did with portable music, we want to reinvent home music."
It's been ten years since the launch of the iPhone, but today Apple executives continue to use the same formula and template that made Steve Jobs' keynotes such awe-inspiring presentations. Why mess with success? Ultimately, consumers will decide if HomePod becomes a hit. But when it comes to presentations, Apple always hits a home run.