Steve Jobs did it again. The live streaming video of his keynote presentation at Apple’s Oct. 20 product announcement was pitch perfect.
I freely admit I’m an Apple fanboy. But by any objective criteria, Steve Jobs has set the bar extraordinarily high for tech business announcements.
Over the past few months, I watched two other tech giants – Google and Facebook – live stream announcements that seemed embarrassingly amateurish by comparison to Apple’s polished pitches.
Apple announcements are highly produced. Jobs often starts with good news for investors. For his most recent announcement, he began by introducing Apple’s COO Tim Cook to walk through impressive numbers about Mac sales.
Throughout his rollout of new features coming to the Mac operating system and new versions of iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand, Jobs shared the stage with engineers who walked through well-scripted demos.
Like many of the Apple announcements, he saved the best for last. His “one more thing” for this event was the introduction of new, stunningly thin MacBook Air laptops.
News media coverage of the event tracked all Apple’s key themes.
Contrast the Apple style with the barely scripted Oct. 6 announcement of Facebook’s updates to its “Groups” functionality and a few other unrelated features. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seemed confused, turning around several times to glimpse the presentation screen behind him.
Hosting the event in the company cafeteria may be quaint, but it’s not a venue built for presentations. The camera often caught the bobbing heads of presenters walking across the stage in front of the screen.
News coverage of the event included comments about what wasn’t announced, confusing reports about changes to Groups’ functionality.
Perhaps I’m not the only one who’s noticed the contrast. Facebook’s Nov. 2 announcement of new mobile products showed the company is improving its presentations. Zuckerberg still seems ill-prepared for his hosting role, but the presentation itself – and the clarity of the messages behind it – showed significant improvement.
Instead of using a camera to shoot the screen showing the presentation slides, the slides were fed directly into the live stream, thus avoiding the bobbing heads at the bottom of the screen. Facebook’s presenters were better rehearsed, though the complete failure of the demo by Loopt was an embarrassment for both firms.
I continue to wonder why Facebook doesn’t rely on COO Sheryl Sandburg, a confident, compelling presenter, as its face to the world. Zuckerberg’s quirky style seems far less likely to engender investor and public confidence in the company’s leadership.
But the Nov. 2 presentation was a step in the right direction. The big deal in the announcement was Deals. In my next blog, I’ll talk more about Deals, because I see this new Facebook feature as the key to mainstreaming location-based social media.