When you hear about an Apple media event, big things come to mind. An entirely new product line, perhaps? Lately, however, these events are much more muted. Have they run their course?
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Oh, and one more thing… actually, that was it

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook takes the stage during Apple Inc.'s iPhone media event in San Francisco

The Apple media events have transformed from “Must See TV” to “I’ll catch it later on my DVR.”  We all remember when Steve Jobs made his triumphant return to the Apple stage and chatted with Mr. Gates via FaceTime, right?  We also remember what a game-changer the iPhone was, sticker-shock aside.

As for the last two events?  We got a fingerprint sensor for the new iPhone and a thinner iPad.

*yawn*

Now, is it fair to compare recent history to two of the most iconic moments in technology history?  Of course not.  But it makes for a fun retrospective into the evolution of these events.

And that’s exactly what we, collectively, have turned these into.  Part of that is Apple’s own doing.  Once you set the bar at a certain level, you can’t go underneath without facing Internet scorn.  But overall, Apple does little to promote these events.  They rely on a lot of speculation up until they finally confirm an event with a formal invitation that almost reads like a ‘save-the-date.’  The blogosphere fills in the rest.

In today’s social-media dominated marketplace, it’s nearly impossible to keep anything a secret.  Going back to when the iPhone and iPad were announced, many predicted we would see something in phone or tablet form.  Details were scarce.  Speculation, however, was rampant.

Nowadays, we go through a continuous cycle of rumors masquerading as puzzle pieces.  One day, we get a blurry picture of a bezel or a home button; the following month, a third-party case maker releases some guesstimate dimensions of [insert HOT NEW ITEM here].  This continues up until event day, and by that time someone has assembled the puzzle and designed their own prototype.

And the cycle continues.

In prior years, we’d follow along, hoping for some grand ballroom entrance of, “Oh, and one more thing.”  But now, we enter these events with a certain set of expectations.  The most recent iPad event, for example, went pretty much as most rumors said it would.  We got our new, thinner iPad with some beefed up internals, along with a retina-equipped mini iPad.

There’s nothing wrong with that, obviously.  But you have to wonder if Apple wouldn’t be better served from getting away from these press events, or at least saving them for something more… special?  The refreshed iPad lineup could’ve been adequately covered with a press release.  Lately, these events seem like 90 minutes of video packages on how great the device already is, with barely five minutes of actual new information.

To be fair, I realize that a blogger lecturing Apple, one of the most successful companies of all time, is a bit ridiculous.  But I can’t shake this general ‘underwhelming’ feeling from the past few press events, which are starting to feel more and more like Apple pep rallies.  We haven’t seen a true surprise in years.  Just updated specs and OS changes.

Apple definitely popularized these events.  Google and Amazon, for example, have taken to these to introduce new Androids and Kindles.  Maybe it’s time for Apple to treat product updates the same way they treat the products themselves – reinvent and set a new standard.

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