Framing Apple’s iPhone keynote


This yr’s iPhone occasion is completed and dusted, and now we’re all sitting within the interregnum between the bulletins and the evaluations. I’ve been fortunate sufficient to reside weblog these occasions for years, however the course of of making a reside weblog is bizarre. I used to be taking photographs for the location through the keynote, and since I’m a “spray and pray” type of photographer, I took upwards of 1,600 photographs in simply a few hours.

I level that out simply to say that my consideration was extra targeted on what Apple was doing than the response to it. I solely had a lot bandwidth, and most of it was taken up by the digicam. So after I had an opportunity later to have a look at all of the protection (and Twitter jokes), it didn’t come as an enormous shock to see that there was a number of shrugging this yr. “S-year” keynotes typically really feel like downers to the tech world, though S-model iPhones are sometimes Apple’s hottest and well-loved units.

It’s actually too early to say whether or not that gross sales sample will repeat itself this yr, however since my consideration was dominated by the keynote, one other type of sample crystalized for me as I used to be snapping away with the digicam: Apple’s construction for saying new options has a really particular and repeatable narrative construction.

In order that’s what this week’s Processor (hey, it’s again!) is about. Perhaps Apple’s framing approach was really easy to see as a result of there have been fewer product bulletins this yr, and the bulletins that did occur have been so simple. I noticed Apple framing product bulletins in a manner similar to how George Lakoff talks about politicians framing points.

This yr’s framing across the digicam was particularly fascinating. Arguably, the innovation on the iPhone XS that can be most noticeable to prospects is the digicam. And with that digicam, Apple is attempting to do some very comparable stuff to what the Pixel 2 does: it takes a number of photographs without delay, it stitches them collectively, and it does extra computation.

However you realize what didn’t get talked about in any respect through the keynote? Every other smartphone cameras. Apple would reasonably you body the brand new iPhone as a factor that’s getting nearer to changing a DSLR, not as a factor that’s within the scrum with different smartphone cameras. Apple units the phrases of the world and of the issues that exist in it. That’s the body.

Lakoff writes:

This offers us a fundamental precept of framing for if you find yourself arguing in opposition to the opposite facet: Don’t use their language. Their language picks out a body — and it received’t be the body you need.

As soon as the body is established, inside that body, Apple tells a story the place one factor results in the subsequent. Right here’s how that often goes:

  1. Discuss how nice Apple merchandise have at all times been
  2. Discuss specs and tech particulars on the brand new factor
  3. Discuss how Apple’s new factor will let you do wonderful new issues

Apple retains doing these keynotes particularly to create that body and inform that story. They don’t (simply) exist so you’ll know what the brand new function or product is; they exist so you possibly can see your self as a personality in Apple’s story. They’re Apple’s greatest likelihood to set the phrases of the dialogue for its merchandise.

Even in an S-year keynote, the place the bulletins aren’t that game-changing, Apple can nonetheless use this narrative-setting construction to form how folks take into consideration their merchandise. It could be even extra necessary in an S-year.

I don’t assume that Apple is exclusive in consciously deploying a story body as a method, however I do assume that the corporate has proven a deeper, extra acutely aware consciousness of its construction and significance than anyone else. It is aware of that most individuals will neglect the function however bear in mind the story arc — or at the very least bear in mind the sensation that story arc is supposed to evoke.

To be clear, I’m not mentioning these rhetorical strategies as a result of I feel they’re one way or the other disingenuous. Apple could also be deploying techniques we extra typically see in political discourse, however that doesn’t imply that it’s simply propaganda. It’s advertising and marketing. And Apple has confirmed itself to be superb at advertising and marketing over time.



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