Steve Jobs would be appalled at how Apple announced iPhone X

Apple CEO Tim Cook closed the company’s big iPhone X event yesterday as he started it, by invoking the words of the company’s venerated founder, Steve Jobs:

Steve Jobs quote


Before going on to thank all the Apple employees that made this possible, he added:

“We work really hard at Apple to create wonderful things. And we hope you love what we’ve introduced today. I think Steve would be really proud of them.”

Steve may or may not have been impressed with the iPhone X itself, but I think he would have been appalled at how they announced the product dubbed, “the future of the smartphone.” *

CEO = Chief Excitement Officer

First, let’s watch Steve Jobs introduce the original iPhone in 2007. It’s worth watching for the joke at the beginning alone.


Note: All these videos are long. You only have to watch a minute or so from where I start each of them to follow along with my commentary.

Now, let’s watch Tim Cook introduce iPhone X:


Wait, Tim, come back! Where are you going?

No one else but Steve Jobs got on stage for the better part of an hour during the original iPhone event in 2007.

Ok, so no one could ever replace Steve. And sure, Tim Cook is more of an operations-focused CEO. I’ll give you that. But the CEO of Apple, whoever it is, leads the world’s most innovative company. If they’re calling iPhone X “the future of the smartphone” the CEO should be announcing it in full.

Go back to bed, Phil

I can only assume that the rules of hierarchy at Apple meant that, if it wasn’t going to be Tim Cook, they were stuck with throwing the walking billboard for overcoming stage fright and the only person less comfortable reading off a tele-prompter than George W. Bush, Phil “Sleepy” Schiller, up there.

Man, he was tough to watch. Was Sergio Dipp not available?

If they had known what was good for them, Apple would have had Craig Federighi, their SVP of Software Engineering do the whole shebang. This guy is genuinely excited:


It’s all about context

Let’s rejoin Phil’s presentation barely a minute later:


First of all, “Super Retina,” guys? Really? You think Steve Jobs would be proud of that? I won’t even get into how Phil reminds us twice in the first few minutes how iPhone X, the future of the smartphone, borrows technology from the iPhone 8, “the past of the smartphone.” But I digress.

This is the SVP of Global Marketing of the most valuable, most innovative company in the world, barely a minute into his presentation for “the future of the smartphone,” and he’s listing off technical screen stats like he’s a marketing intern.

Compare this to how Steve Job’s brags about the original iPhone’s screen:

Original iPhone screen features


Once Steve did dive into the nitty gritty of explaining the new Retina display, this is how he did it:

Steve Jobs Retina Display


Steve even mentions pixel density, just like Phil, but he includes a crucial bit of information for context for us humans:

Steve Jobs iPhone 4 pixel density


Evolutionary vs Revolutionary

But the original iPhone was a revolutionary product, you say. The iPhone X is an evolutionary product, so of course they have to talk about it differently. (I’d argue that if you’re calling your product “the future of the smartphone” you might take issue with it being called an “evolutionary” product, but we’ll gloss over that.)

Ok, let’s look at how Steve Jobs (and only Steve Jobs) talked about iPhone 4 at its launch event:


Anything sound familiar? The iPhone 4 was “the biggest leap since the original iPhone,” just like iPhone X. (🤔)

Yes, Steve gets a bit more technical in this pitch, but he’s still gushing about an “all new design” that is “beyond the doubt, the most precise thing, one of the most beautiful things we’ve ever made.”

When he does get into stats, after letting people ogle the device’s inherent beauty, it’s to tell the world that iPhone 4 is “24% thinner” than the previous iPhone, “something you didn’t think couldn’t get any thinner,” and is the “thinnest smartphone on the planet.”

That’s what I’m talking about!

People don’t buy shovels, they buy holes

Maybe the most disheartening part of Sleepy Phil’s presentation was how he summed up Apple’s (r)evolutionary new product:

iPhone X features


Look at all those features! Phil even has to promise the audience he won’t list them all, because we half-expected him to do just that.

This is how Steve summed up the original, feature-packed, iPhone:

Steve Jobs iPhone You life in your pocket


Let’s call this fight

The word hubris comes to mind when someone like me critiques the SVP of Global Marketing at one of the most respected companies in the world, but a bad presentation is like porn, I know it when I see it.

I would suggest Phil go back and watch his old boss’s presentations for inspiration. Or at least try to get some more sleep next time.

No one will ever be as good as Steve Jobs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change for the better. Otherwise, you get a beatdown by a nobody like me. (Video NSFW)


* I think “the future of the smartphone” is one thing Steve Jobs would have approved of about this presentation.