Let me start on a side note: Dear netbook makers, whoever you are — I don’t know your names because we don’t pay any attention to you, but we know you’re out there, polluting the world with your cheap, ugly, underpowered machines — but here is my command: Surrender and prepare to be boarded. Yes, you’ve been pwned. We told you we didn’t care about the netbook market, so you went ahead with your plans, but now we’re about to put you out of business — iTablet is in the final stages, which means Apple will be taking over the market you created and then reinventing it in such a way that it immediately becomes 10 times bigger than it used to be, and all the money goes to Apple.
Honestly, Apple faithful, I feel like Jesus coming down from Mount Zion with those stone tablets. Except my tablet is electronic, which Katie says makes me Electronic Jesus. Of course she’s kidding. We really don’t go around comparing me to Jesus. Frankly, it’s apples and oranges, and it sort of diminishes both of us to put us in a framework like that. But I really view this product as the crowning achievement of my career. I’ve come to believe it is the reason I was put on earth. And yes, this is why I was, well, a bit of a dick to the people who were working on it. Because it had to be perfect. And you know what? It is. It’s actually better than perfect, which maybe you didn’t think was possible, but it is. In fat that is a phrase I first heard from my friend I.M. Pei (who by the way just loves his 30-inch Cinema Display) when he was telling me about that glass pyramid at the Louvre. “Steve,” he said to me, “it is better than perfect.” Ever since then, I’ve strived to reach that level of beyond perfection, or, as we say at Apple, “perfection plus.”
And now we’ve hit it. Because iTablet truly is the most amazing product I’ve ever created, more amazing even than iPhone, and I was pretty sure iPhone would never be topped. Fast network? Check. Gorgeous interface? Check. Light weight? Sleek design? Great (unremovable) battery life? Check, check, check. Childlike wonder? Almost too much of it. In fact, the first time Phil Schiller held iTablet in his hands, he began to shake and had to sit down. It’s that overwhelming.
As usual, we began with an ad campaign. Then we went through excruciating rounds of prototyping and non-thinking and dozens of emergent designs. Then came months of trying to decide whether the tablet should be white or black, and looking at plastics, and getting the exact right gloss. Then came the packaging, and finally, last March, we began the lock-down period where the two dozen engineers who are most crucial to the project are kept on campus 24×7 so that they can’t talk to their families or friends about what they’re doing. For 18 of those hours every day they work in solitary confinement, communicating with each other only through email and instant messages, and receiving delicious, freshly cooked ethnic meals through a slot in their door. For six hours they are put into “sleep mode,” meaning they are hooked to an IV and put into an intensely restful chemically induced coma in solitary sleep pods (shiny white, natch) during which time their dreams are monitored and scrubbed of any information that we deem proprietary.
Now we’re in the final stage — leak mode. No doubt you’ve seen the articles, like this one in Apple Insider or the one in the Financial Times where they said we’re doing some “Cocktail” thing with music companies so we can force people to go back to those wonderful days when you had to buy a whole album of shit songs just to get the one song you liked. That part about the music companies and the cocktail was what we call a “barium enema,” meaning it’s fake info that we attach to the real info so that we can trace who leaked it and then have that person shot.
Meanwhile, we’re also well into rehearsals for the iTablet keynote. And, as always, it’s making me nuts. We spend eight to ten hours a day on stage in the recreation of the Moscone Center here on campus. And it’s just grueling. Every few seconds I have to stop because some tiny thing is not quite … perfection plus. I realize I’m being overly obsessive, but I can’t help myself. This is a super important event. Not only because we’re introducing the most amazing product the world has ever seen, but because this marks my return from the underworld.
We’re using the code name “Project Orpheus,” and in order to create the right vibe for the event everyone on the events team was required to read Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” Because think about it. A hero goes off on a journey or adventure; experiences tremendous challenges that threaten his life; he possibly even dies, and journeys into the underworld; but then he returns to the ordinary world with a great gift, or “boon,” to share with the world. (Yeah, I know — “boon” sounds like “boom.” Happy accident. We’re working with it.)
Anyway, just like Orpheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to the world, my gift to the world is iTablet — a device that incorporates not just chips and software, but magic. Special secret powers from Mount Olympus, stuff that turns you into a kind of man-god, a semi-divine being with a magic tablet so light that you can’t even feel it in your backpack or briefcase but with the ability to connect you to the Internet and enable you to buy anything you want as long as it comes from Apple. In other words, you’re a superhero. With super powers. All this for only $899!
If you doubt the power of this hero’s journey myth to sell products, well, I urge you to check out some of the organizations that have used it in the past. Like there’s this product called Christianity. Have you heard of it? Pretty big deal. I mean they’ve been selling that stuff for two thousand years — to be sure, with updates and upgrades, and a lot of forking of the code — but it’s still throwing off huge amounts of positive cash flow. All based on this amazing marketing narrative about a dude who dies, goes down into Hades, and comes back to the ordinary world with something to tell. You spiff that story up a bit and tell it just right, and people send you their money. Not just once, but over and over and over again, throughout their entire lives. Brilliant! It’s the greatest marketing campaign ever invented.
But you know what? This whole “I’m off to get a liver and might even die but oh wait, I’m back now and guess what, I saw God and here’s the tablet computer that he wants you to use” thing is right up there. People are gonna be so excited to see me on stage that they’ll do anything I tell them. P.T. Barnum? David Blaine? The big J.C. himself? I have pieces of guys like that in my stool. So, my advice? Keep your Tuesdays in September free. Get the lawn chairs and blankets ready, and start staking out a space in front of your local Apple store, and get those credit cards ready. Nerdvana is just around the corner. Seriously. It’s closer than you think.