The leak of basically everything about Apple’s iOS 11 and its new iPhones removes any and all mystery about the company’s event on Tuesday. Short of Apple CEO Tim Cook rolling onto stage in an Apple iCar, there are few surprises left.
Not that there was much to begin with.
For some time now, Apple’s events have been so thoroughly spoiled for us that the days of Steve Jobs adding “one more thing” and then summarily blowing the minds of the technorati seem like eons ago. The company couldn’t even kick the proverbial tires of making an Apple car without journalists exposing most every twist and turn.
The most recent leak of iOS 11 hammered this home: “One more thing” is dead, replaced by an incessant drip of leaks about Apple’s plans.
You would think that a constant stream of leaks would be bad for Apple (after all, it makes for some boring Apple events), but it’s been just the opposite. Now, instead of being in the news just a few times a year, Apple is front and center in the tech press nearly every day.
It’s a trade off—no more Apple Event surprises but attention on the company throughout the year—that’s awfully convenient for Apple. Apple hasn’t released anything interesting in a while, a problem noted by the very same blogs that exhaustively cover the company. And yet, despite not having any products worth the “one more thing” hype, the Apple is still enjoying near-constant interest in its products, fueled by rumors, leaks, and outright guesses about the company’s new products.
Turns out, those big events just aren’t that necessary anymore. The Google Trends search data below shows that while there are still spikes around events, people are just googling “iPhone” pretty consistently these days.
The near-daily reports are often about tiny changes or small features, many of which are already available on other phones. These are details that might get a passing mention or at best a short bit of focus amidst a multi-hour extravaganza, complete with whatever terrible band Tim Cook asked to perform.
But now, instead of a passing mention, these tiny tidbits are scrutinized and debated. What does it mean that there’s no headphone jack on the iPhone? Will we be able to live with the fingerprint sensor on the back? Is life worth living if there’s a notch at the top of your smartphone screen?
This isn’t entirely different from how other major pop culture phenomena have evolved. The hype cycle around Game of Thrones has reached a level that’s hard to fathom. Even with its own leaks, the show has routinely smashed its previous ratings records. And the National Basketball Association has succeeded in turning itself into a year-round sport thanks to any number of leaks and rumors about its stars even when the league isn’t in season.
This kind of ubiquity is a valuable and distinct characteristic of our modern times. Before the emergence of tech blogs, coverage of companies like Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, and the rest was primarily magazine-based. Trade publications weren’t widely read. Daily newspapers primarily covered regional and national news, and television never really had a tech destination. There were still rumors, but they weren’t necessarily relayed at lights speed to the public.
The explosion of tech blogs changed all that. Websites like 9to5Mac.com and BGR have made a business out of covering even the smallest move or questionable rumor about Apple. This might have limited appeal, but Apple has superfans just like the NBA does.
Feeding those superfans ends up creating a world in which there are no off days. There is no news item too small. Every rumor has value, as does just about any opinion. By the time anything is actually revealed, its been so thoroughly deconstructed that there’s little left other than the formality of its release and the actual buying of the product.
We’re left with events in which it seems like Apple is going through the motions. And they are. We know what’s coming, and they know we know, and we know they know we know, and so forth.
We all know there’s not “one more thing” coming. “One more thing” is dead. We killed it with our incessant coverage. And Apple is better off that way.