Over the past few months, it feels as if Apple is on a media and publicity roadshow. Tim Cook has appeared on Rock Center, testified at the Senate’s corporate tax hearing, and was interviewed at All Things D’s D11 conference. In addition, as was mentioned during today’s Happy Hour podcast, the Apple executives took many opportunities during the WWDC keynote to speak directly to recent criticisms about their design decisions and abilities to innovate in the tech industry.
This is, quite simply, the era of unshackled and vocal Apple executives.
Previously, the company was quite secretive and did not take many opportunities to speak with the press and take criticism head-on. If there was a certain issue that would not go away, Steve Jobs would come out as the attack dog and attempt to express Apple’s opinions without an exclusive interview or press conference.
The Adobe Flash debacle is a great example of how Steve approached these situations. A subtle “Thoughts on Flash” (which is still accessible on the Apple website) was posted to the company’s homepage, complete with Steve’s thought process and reasoning for the exclusion of Flash from iOS devices. This letter addressed the situation thoroughly and, as seen by the lack of Flash on nearly any mobile device, put the issue to rest.
In the new era, there are many faces that represent Apple. Previously, Scott Forstall was one of the most prominent and public-facing executives of the company. However, it was Forstall’s refusal to sign the Apple Maps apology letter that supposedly ended his long history with the company. In that respect, it seems as if Forstall was the last executive to believe in the power of media shyness. Now, executives like Tim Cook, Phil Schiller, and Craig Federighi are happy to fess up to past criticisms and prove the strength of the company.
Can’t innovate anymore, my ass.
During the WWDC keynote, a short teaser video for the new Mac Pro played then Phil Schiller quipped, “Can’t innovate anymore, my ass.” He was met with loud cheering and celebration by the developers in the audience who had just heard one of the most representative statements in recent times. This new era Apple takes on naysayers full-force. This new era Apple can admit that virtual cows were being harmed with previous skeuomorphic calendars and the wood in Game Center might not have been best for the environment. This new era Apple is on the offense.
And it’s great.
Swapping approaches from sheer silence to straight-forward tackling is extremely risky. However, the WWDC keynote adamantly proved that the executives are in-sync with each other and, more importantly, the entire tech industry. The collaboration between the engineering and design teams is evident in iOS 7 (yep, I’m a big fan of the new operating system, save for the disgusting default background and a few questionable icon designs) and many of the other products coming out of Cupertino like iWork for iCloud.
Of note, we have been able to see the personalities of many Apple executives lately. Rather than having Steve Jobs as the sole face of the company, we can now see the strength and talent of many executives working together to create new software and hardware products. It’s taking a step back, refocusing, taking in the surroundings, and perfecting every feature and element. “If everyone is so busy making everything, how can anyone perfect anything?”
Welcome to the era of unshackled Apple executives, where ears are open, yet focus is paramount.