Tim Cook spoke to Apple's overall mission, which remains creating products that its customers love.
Watching Apple through the lens of public perception, it would be easy to buy into the idea that the company has been under siege of late. But even if that were the case, it's clear that Apple isn't buying the hype. Each of the executives who took to the stage on Monday conveyed, to a one, both excitement and confidence about the future direction of Apple--and they brought the announcements to prove it.
In 2011, my colleague Jason Snell likened Steve Jobs's WWDC keynote to The Godfather, with Apple taking care of all old business. This year's keynote wasn't perhaps quite so dramatic, but with major revisions of OS X and iOS, a sneak peek at the new Mac Pro, speed-bumped MacBook Airs, a music-streaming service, and the future of iWork--all in a reasonably compact two hours--you'd be excused from a little bit of brain overload.
The best defense
All this, too, from an Apple that's been largely silent since its last event in October. Meanwhile, the company has suffered, largely in silence, the slings and arrows from the public, pundits, Wall Street analysts, and even Congress. The company has been under fire for everything from the performance of its mapping software, to allegations of ebook price-fixing, to scrutiny over its tax practices.
The company's latest announcements are unlikely to divert attention permanently--after all, the litigation over ebooks is ongoing, and it seems that questions over the tax issues have just gotten started.
But it's clear, from watching Monday's keynote, that all of that was merely a sideshow. Apple has shifted the conversation back to an arena where it's far more comfortable, where it can talk about the things that it's actually making rather than just going on the defensive about all of those uncomfortable, technical business issues.
CEO Tim Cook repeatedly drove home the point that Apple sees its mission as designing products that people love. And while he drew upon market share, usage data, and customer satisfaction numbers to bolster that statement, it was the products themselves that stole the show. Applause is normal at an Apple keynote--and even the occasional call or whoop from the audience--but Monday's event had what has to be a record for the number of times that executives on stage responded to those in the audience.
It's a far more affectionate rapport than we've seen in the past, where Apple sometimes comes across as more of a cool, (usually) benevolent overlord, issuing proclamations to its subjects. Instead, Apple executives seemed more jazzed than usual, like that friend that really wants you to check out the latest album they bought.
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