Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Revision

I own John Sculley's autobiography, and I recall that it included a statement along the lines of "marketing is theater."

Certainly you can get a lot of press out of holding an event with a capital E, and Sculley's former employer isn't the only one who knows this. Just a few days ago LeBron James, who has been scrutinized for months over his basketball future, participated in a prime time event commonly referred to as The Decision.

Now Sculley's former employer is getting into the act. All Things Digital:

Apple (AAPL) is holding an invitation-only press conference Friday July 16 at its Cupertino headquarters. In an e-mailed invitation the company offered few details beyond the event’s topic: the iPhone 4.

No more details were provided, but speculation is certainly running rampant, given how Apple iPhone 4 news has dominated the tech press since...well, for about as long as LeBron James news has dominated the sports press. Even I'm writing about the iPhone 4, most recently here.

Now some might fault Apple for holding an invitation-only press conference. However, as I noted:

...frankly just about ALL press conferences these days are invitation-only. I can't think of the last time that a business leader or politician opened themselves up to questions from ANYBODY.

The reason is obvious. If Steve Jobs or Steve Ballmer or Barack Obama or Sarah Palin or whoever literally opened up the floor to EVERYONE - Helen Thomas, Sacha Baron Cohen, me - then there's a greater chance that the questioning may result in an Incorrect Answer. Now I don't know who was invited to this Apple event and who wasn't, but you can bet that Apple - just like any other entity about to be subjected to questioning - is going to make every effort to make sure that the questioners behave nicely. Perhaps there will be nice munchies. Perhaps there will be pulsating music.

And you can bet there's going to be mystery. Any leaks regarding the contents of the prepared statement will be pursued by the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team. Any Apple executive who visits a yogurt shop will be in disguise.

As a result, there's going to be a lot of speculation over the next few days. I could go ahead and speculate myself, since my guesses will be just as uninformed as everyone else's guesses. Maybe Woz will do a dance routine. I don't know.

Steven Hodson has referred to a statement from Microsoft's Michael Turner comparing the iPhone 4 to Windows Vista. And it took months, if not years, for the Vista furor to die down. So don't expect the iPhone 4 issues to be forgotten by Saturday.

I am curious, however - if Apple announces some modification to the phone, will it be referred to as "The Revision"?
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