Today’s the biggest day of the fall (in the northern hemisphere) for Apple fanboys and fangirls: The
iPhone 5 iPhone 4S announcement is expected at the press event Apple’s hosting in Cupertino on its campus. The excitement starts at noon central time, and I’ll be following the news with Engadget’s event live blog Leo Laport’s Live Ustream feed. Later today or tomorrow, Apple will post the video of the event for the millions of people who couldn’t be there in person but still want to watch the entire “show.” I’ll most likely watch that version and share some comments later, but for now I want to recommend you check out the 50 minute Amazon Kindle Press Conference from September 28th in New York City.
Not only is it enlightening to learn more about the FOUR new eBook / eMedia devices Amazon announced that day, it’s also very instructive to contrast the presentation style AND presentation content of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos with the past style/content of Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Today will be the first big Apple PR event without Jobs, since he stepped down in August this year, but I’m sure the “Apple style” of presentation and product “wow factor” will be preserved. I’m also predicting we’ll hear far more about “cloud services” in this presentation from Apple folks than we’ve heard previously. (Given past announcements about iCloud, this isn’t a huge stretch for an amateur futurist.)
So here’s your assignment, if you choose to accept it. Watch Jeff Bezos’ keynote on the Amazon Fire and other eBook devices from September 28th, and then be ready to contrast that “performance” (paying particular attention to style) as well as the keynote content with the Apple presentation forthcoming later today.
I was really amazed there wasn’t more applause and audience reaction during Bezos’ September 28th demonstration in New York City. The audience must have been compositionally different than the ones typically attending Apple events. Obviously there were lots of press reps at both, but in the LACK of audience reaction I think it’s plain to see Amazon has a different “fan following” at this point than Apple does. This was an incredible set of announcements, both because of the price points AND the functionality offered by these new Kindle versions from Amazon. I thought the crowd should have reacted MUCH more enthusiastically to these products. I think Jeff’s demeanor and style as a presenter must have contributed significantly, however, to this lack of a response. I wasn’t there, so I can’t say for sure… but his style was less inviting of applause during the presentation than the ways I’ve seen Steve Jobs present in the past. Sometimes this is just a use of pauses. Bezos didn’t use a presentation style that invited audience applause, even though it was very deserved.
Jeff’s most poignant use of graphics in his multimedia presentation on September 28th was this slide contrasting Amazon’s sales growth of print versus electronic books. Who says “the book is dead?!” (Hint: It was Steve Jobs in 2008. His actual quote in the New York Times was, “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore.”)
From a content perspective, the key message Bezos wanted to share with his audience on September 28th was, “We’re building premium products at non-premium prices.” This was a DIRECT dig at Apple’s approach selling the iPad at a steep price. While this may be a good message for Amazon to leverage and a potentially powerful one with consumers, I don’t think Bezos pulled off his presentation with the flair and impact which Jobs regularly did as Apple CEO. You can tell from the LACK energy in the room, conveyed in the YouTube video version. Bezos is far less of a showman and accomplished presenter than Jobs was or is.
One common denominator I predict we’ll see in both the forthcoming Apple presentation later today and Jeff’s presentation from September 28th is a focus on CLOUD-based services. The fact that MobileMe sync and backups are now going to be free to all Apple customers (via iCloud) is HUGE. Web services “in the cloud” are a significant and growing part of our computing present and future. It’s VERY exciting to see companies like Apple (which has traditionally had a more client-based, “your computer is your media hub” approach to computing) as well as Amazon embracing it.
This six minute video about Amazon Silk, touted as “Amazon’s Revolutionary Cloud-Accelerated Web Browser,” was definitely one of the most significant ideas Bezos shared on September 28th. The assumptions we may have traditionally made about “mobile computing experiences” may be redefined by cloud-based processing power. Just as Google Fusion tables can bring incredible power directly to any web browser, running on a RAM-laden desktop or an ultra-thin browser client like a Chromebook, this new web browsing approach from Amazon promises to usher in a new era of transformative, mobile computing experiences.
From a consumer perspective, and specifically the perspective of an educator, it’s great to see companies like Amazon and Apple continuing to innovate as well as compete. Some of your students are sure to be discussing Apple’s announcements later this week. Take this as an opportunity to have a “compare and contrast” moment. What was different stylistically between Bezos’ announcements on September 28th and Apple’s announcements today? How about content? What do these products and offered services tell us about the direction of not just computing, but COMMUNICATION in 2011? How are our classrooms embracing these possibilities? How about our schools? How about us as individuals?
Lots of great food for thought and ideas for good conversations! Please chime in with comments and your own views. If you talk about this with your students, please share what you discussed and what the kids said. 🙂
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