‘Live, on Tape, at Apple Park’

I don’t want to get too circular, but here’s Jason Snell, linking to my piece today on last week’s event, regarding the pre-filmed format of the keynote:

What Apple loses in going entirely pre-taped is that frisson of excitement that comes from knowing that something could go wrong because it’s all happening live. It also loses the live-show dynamic of a bunch of Apple employees and invited guests applauding and cheering in the front rows of the theater, making the show seem a little more important, sort of like filming a sitcom in front of a live studio audience in order to import in some laughter and applause.

I didn’t think about it until reading this just now, but in person, there’s a lot less applause in the audience now for these filmed keynotes. That was true at WWDC, too, but it was really noticeable in the Steve Jobs Theater. Employees and other attendees did break into applause multiple times, but they had to cut their applause short because the keynote film is edited for the streaming experience, and sustained applause would cause everyone in the theater to miss the next lines.

From my (literal) perspective this is an improvement to the in-Steve-Jobs-Theater experience. I get it why Apple employees in the audience have always applauded so vigorously, and I get it why Apple has always made sure the audience has plenty of Apple employee ringers in the seats. It was fantastic fun in particular at the 2018 MacBook Air/iPad Pro event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, when Apple invited hundreds of retail employees from around the country to be in the audience. Their enthusiasm was both genuine and contagious. But it’s always seemed a little incongruous that ostensibly professional press events doubled as in-company launch celebrations.

And it’s even more different for the zillions of people who only watched last week’s keynote from home (or, of course, work): there was applause inside SJT, but none of you heard it.

Tuesday, 13 September 2022