Chances are that unless you have been living under an Internet-free rock, you have gotten a dose of the rumor mill surrounding Apple’s likely new product, the Apple Tablet computer (by whatever name it will eventually appear on Wednesday, unless it won’t, that is).
iPad/iSlate/iTablet/etc., heir to the iPhone, destroyer of lesser technology gadgets?!
The name is not the only thing that has been a closely, and purposefully guarded secret:
The blogosphere and assorted Old Media outlets have over the last few months progressively worked themselves into a tizzy over the key questions surrounding Steve Job’s next mysterious, almost Grail-like product.
Like, how big will it be? How much will it cost? How many men died during its construction?
Kidding on that last one, though not by much…
All of this is of course utterly predictable in light of Apple’s tightly constructed Archetype Branding strategy that I’ve been writing about since the iPhone wave. Secrecy is such that the Tablet so far as only appeared indirectly, as a quasi digital ghost.
Pairing Steve Job’s “Wizard of Oz” character (The Wizard archetype, coming out from behind the curtains – i.e. secrecy – with the newest technological marvel), with The Enigma archetype inherent in this elaborate charade, is creating a launch atmosphere unlike just about anything else in current business, or show business for that matter.
Of Wizards, Grails, And Zeigarnik Effects?!
Not only does mystery draw on this powerful archetype, but, just in case you prefer more scientific approaches, the so-called Zeigarnik Effect also explains the draw of an unresolved, “open” loop that has entered your consciousness. Somewhat dependent upon personality, you are likely to feel a strong urge of just having to know.
This explains why even many months ago, bloggers and journalists alike could seemingly not help themselves but to write about the mystical Tablet. And of course from the very beginning, that is just how Apple wanted it.
Even now, well after midnight in the U.S., there are thousands of tweets on Twitter every few minutes expounding one rumored aspect or the next:
Some have even argued that Apple will deliberately sprinkle out little bits of information mixed with misinformation to stoke the fire.
Whatever Jobs will be presenting on Wednesday, and by whatever name it will be called, all eyes will be simultaneously oriented toward “The Great Unveiling”. Compare this natural feeding frenzy to the rather humdrum affairs that Google or Microsoft had given us of late.
Google’s Nexus One Android smartphone launch a few weeks ago was hardly the stuff of legend with its persistent minimalism. And by the time Windows 7 was finally officially launched, so many public Alpha, Beta, and minor tech celebrity testers had already rummaged through every nook and cranny of the operating system AND written about their findings, that it was hardly news anymore.
Now, a sheer endless parade of blog posts and articles has already been written about the Apple Tablet. But those have all been speculation, rumor, and innuendo! (“Will it be a Kindle killer?” “Will it be a Play Station Portable (PSP) killer?” etc. etc.)
The open loop was NEVER closed!
As if any more titillation were necessary, the issue of Jobs’ ongoing illness/recovery and speculation that this may well be his last new product launch as Master of Ceremonies… I mean CEO. And that he therefore will have brought all of his human and, some would speculate, super-human powers of invention, design obsession, and stage craft to bear in this his final Magnum Opus.
Even now we hear whispers: Did he really say that this Tablet “will Be The Most Important Thing I’ve Ever Done.” Did he? Would he? Can the poor computer thing possibly live up to this level of hype?
Robert Scoble indeed asks if the event can even still be covered in ways that news media, journalists, and bloggers have become accustomed to over the years. Or if we need an entirely new, “curated”, meta-experience to fully appreciate the unfolding of this new reality.
And therein lies the only drawback and potential danger of such a tightly choreographed affair:
All of the pieces have to be in place (when Jobs got sick and was absent from one of these launches, the magic was clearly lacking). And when they are, a deep connection and expectation is formed in people’s psyches that may prove difficult, if not impossible, to live up to.