High Five #12 - The Five Greatest Apple Keynotes

It's only 5 days until the WWDC Keynote.... Only 4 shopping days left until Keynote Eve!

I've written at length on this site about the importance of the Apple CEO Keynotes in fostering the unique relationship between Apple and its fans. Today's High Five lists the 5 Greatest Keynotes that Apple has ever given us:

5. iOS App SDK - March 2008

It's hard to imagine an app-less iPhone now, but this Keynote marked a major shift.

Prior to the release of the iPhone SDK, the iPhone screen was a static single-page grid, and the only third-party "apps" for the iPhone were actually websites, accessed via Safari.

Just 6 years later, Apple is marking its 50 billionth App Store download.

4. iPod - October 2001

Steve Jobs had returned to Apple about 4 years prior (remember the shareholder event/Keynote where Bill Gates appeared onscreen to a chorus of boos?) and had already brought us the iMac.

But the release of the iPod really expanded Apple's reach. No longer was Apple a low-market-share also-ran computer company.... now they were a consumer electronics company, selling an MP3 player that would absolutely dominate the world during its run....

3. iPod Nano - September 2005

....and this Keynote is where Apple and the iPod really hit their stride. Initially, the iPod was largely a Mac-only device. Between October 2001 and September 2005, Apple released iTunes for Windows, and started selling iPods to the other 90% of the world.

In September 2005, Apple announced the end of the iPod Mini, and announced its successor, the iPod Nano. The Nano was - and still is - a tech marvel. Impossibly thin. Color LED screen. No moving parts whatsoever - which ended the problem of failing drives in prior iPods.

With the Keynote announcing the iPod Nano, Apple captured the imagination of the entire world. This was a company that, it seemed, could create literally anything

2. iPad - January 2010

We all knew it was coming. Apple's "latest creation" was going to be a tablet. There was a leaked photo of a device bolted to a table, and the general specs and look of the device were more or less assumed.

And still, the Keynote managed to amaze. Steve very persuasively set forth the reason that the iPad should exist - a device to bridge the gap between smartphones and laptops. We knew iOS already, of course. And still were surprised at the iPad's speed and responsiveness, the ease of use.

What we didn't know was the name. How could Apple have successfully kept that secret!? iSlate? iTab? When we heard the name, at first, everyone giggled. And then they stopped. Today, "iPad" sounds like the most obvious name they could have possibly gone with.

But what really shocked us was the price. That morning, "sources" had pegged the iPad at $750-$1000. Jobs almost gleefully announced that it would be $499. And the rest is history. 

1. iPhone - January 2007

This is the big one - the keynote that will, in all likelihood, never be matched. Steve announced "three
devices" - a phone (wild applause), a widescreen iPod (more wild applause, now with surprise!), and an "internet communications device" (confused applause).

Obviously, those three devices were actually one device, the iPhone. It was completely unlike anything that anyone anticipated, and completely unlike any phone or iPod that preceded it.

No buttons - just a glass screen. No clickwheel, virtual or otherwise. No stylus - just our fingers. This Keynote is where we first saw pinch-to-zoom. It's where we first saw iOS.

It marked the beginning of the end for the iPod, and will forever stand as a watershed moment in computing history. When it comes to consumer electronics devices, there was "pre-iPhone" and and there was "post-iPhone".

This Keynote was the dividing line, and nothing else in tech was ever the same.


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