“Developers, developers, developers, developers, developers.”
In 2000, the sweaty, high-energy Steve Ballmer footage of then-Microsoft CEO became a big hit after walking the stage and yelling the same words over and over again.
This was one of the many moments in the last 30 years of live tech events that cast a must-see moment.
But lately, tech fans are hungry for a live launch because of Covid’s pandemic.
Keynotes, long demos popularized by Apple’s Steve Jobs, and other tech celebrities have almost disappeared.
Instead, almost every tech company is looking at virtual events. In most cases, this will include a very glossy pre-edited video.
“We all look together and say’live’without quotes, but it’s not live. It has been pre-recorded and played live. It’s like a YouTube premiere, “recalls tech commentator Jason Snell.
And some believe that this format is well established.
There is no standing
This Tuesday, Apple plans to launch several new iPads and other products this way, previously announcing the new iPhone and giving a keynote speech at the annual WWDC developer conference by such means. ..
Many who would have attended in person love change.
“Last year was one of the best meetings they had … few people didn’t appreciate the format,” said an independent iOS developer who has been attending WWDC every year since 2015. One Ish Shabazz says.
One of the big problems with live events is the very limited space in the conference room.
Shabazz says he couldn’t usually get into the main room, even if he intended to go to an Apple event.
In fact, most viewers are watching remotely, which is a challenge.
“You are feeding the audience,” explains technology industry analyst Carolina Milanesi.
“So Apple enthusiasts, people watching at home, don’t feel included.”
The advantage of pre-shot video is that CEO Tim Cook feels like talking directly to each potential customer.
Slip on stage
There are other reasons why tech companies may prefer pre-recorded formats.
For one thing, it eliminates the annoying opportunity that something goes wrong.
Over the years, there have been many such moments. Looking back, it wasn’t very interesting to the people involved at the time.
Like Tesla’s non-crushable cyber truck window, that’s a mistake … It broke as soon as I hit it with a metal ball.
The Apple brand is based on high-end and beautiful gadgets.
Failure on stage, such as when Steve Jobs’ iPhone 4 demo crashed due to a Wi-Fi issue in 2010, doesn’t fit the image you want to project.
“Befitting the Apple brand, this pure white, carefully constructed video gives you control over everything. There’s no slack like a live event,” Snell says.
Having a live event can also be expensive and stressful.
Not all tech CEOs are natural speakers. Pre-recorded video with autoqueue and the required number of takes may be suitable for some.
In many ways it makes sense to stop a live event.
However, these presentations go far beyond the presentation itself.
As Shabazz points out, Apple’s annual developer conference is an opportunity to meet and network with others.
“Honestly, this is the highlight of the year, when we can talk to everyone in the community,” he says.
For most people attending these conferences, developing direct contact is a big attraction.
Even for tech companies, crowded live events are an opportunity to launch real-time energy.
“Stage crafts that applaud the audience. That works. That’s why they laugh at the trucks in comedies … it’s weird without it,” Snell says.
Sure, pre-recorded video removes the risk, but anyone who watches a soccer match in a closed room can prove it-a clean stadium can create a sterile atmosphere. It’s not what you want when you’re trying to excite people with a product.
Virtual events also limit the way journalists review products.
“We miss the opportunity to actually touch the device, which is important to Apple,” says Milanesi.
Many companies send their products to reviewers, but there is often a delay between the product launch and the tester’s hands.
“I think Apple wants to meet in person when it comes to launching new iPhone events or announcing what it wants to show off,” says tech journalist Steven Aquino.
He believes companies like Apple will move to a hybrid model where most of the meetings are pre-recorded but with a mix of live elements.
At the I / O developer event next month, Google announced that it would try out such a model using an outdoor stage.
It’s not yet clear when live indoor events will be possible. But when things got back to normal, the technical presentation could have changed forever, and perhaps for the better.
James Clayton is the BBC’s North American Technology Reporter based in San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter @ jamesclayton5..