Much like everybody else, I was glued to my laptop yesterday for yesterday’s Macworld keynote from Apple (I even live blogged the event), only to be disappointed. While there were a few decent announcements (DRM-free music on iTunes and new prices), the event was almost entirely a snooze-fest.
There are many reasons that could be used for why the event was so boring, everything from the lack of Steve Jobs to the fact that most of the rumored items that people had been hoping for didn’t show up, but I believe the main reason is Apple’s constant secrecy surrounding all of its events.
Apple has a history of being secretive about everything until the moment it is announced. Sure, there is the occasional leak, but on the whole, nobody really knows anything for sure until its announced. This can certainly give Apple the shock factor when something big is announced, but ultimately, I believe they are shooting themselves in the foot with this strategy.
The secrecy that surrounds the events leads to two things, over-hype and rumors. These are the two largest causes for disappointment at any Apple event. The rumor mill usually starts working overtime around a month or so before an announcement, spinning off every wild idea from the retirement of Steve Jobs to an iPhone Nano (which I still believe is an idea that is beyond stupid) only to end up leaving people with higher expectations than they should have. No company can make everything and hit a home run with every press event, but thanks to the rumor mill, it is expected of Apple. If Apple would reveal what its events were about before hand, it would largely kill the over-hype caused by expectations created from the wild internet rumors. Opening up about the events would allow the hype to be adjusted down to a reasonable level.
The over-hype is really a big problem. Thanks to the rumors and crazed Apple fans, Apple events become over-hyped which leads to a feeling of under-delivery. Asking people, mainly journalists, to come from around the world to cover your products when you tell them nothing about what you are going to talk about is a bit much. If people knew beforehand what is going to be discussed, they would determine if their presence is required and ultimately the expectations and hype around the event that bring people from around the globe would be at a more manageable level.
While any coverage is good coverage for most companies, if Apple expects to have happy customers and stock holders, they need to kill the rumors and over-hype by being less secretive. Apple’s stock tends to swing quite a bit around announcements and I think that if Apple wasn’t so secretive, these huge swings would not exist. Secrecy might be warrented in some cases, but unless there is a major shift in company strategy, being open and letting people know what they are in for is the best way to control reactions from events such as this.