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One More Thing…

Like probably everyone else in our little industry I listened live to the Apple launch event on Monday, and this phrase kept popping into my head.

Since we are a technology branding agency, we all watched it together on one of our big Apple monitors (of course). We all nodded knowingly when the Tim Cook announced the HBO streaming agreement, not a total surprise as we had been hearing about unbundling content since the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

And the new Mac laptop is an engineering masterpiece, although we all did debate packing all those heat-producing electronics onto a smaller circuit board in a machine with no fan.

But let’s be honest here, no one in our office or across the world cared a whit about HBO, content deals, or the new laptop. Monday was all about The Watch.

The Watch is big for Apple, for so many reasons. It’s the next “big thing” for the company, replacing the long-rumored Apple television as the visionary product for the next generation of services and revenues. It also represents a new beginning in that it is the first “post-Steve” product, belonging completely to Jonathan Ive. And it is Apple’s first foray beyond consumer electronics into luxury products.

Apple has been able to make this leap before, from computers, to music players, to phones. Part of this was the unmistakable charisma of Steve Jobs, who imbued himself in all the products. And part of that brand DNA was the sense that Apple didn’t give you what you wanted – it gave you what you didn’t know you wanted.

And you would find out about it nearly at the end of a presentation. Jobs would pause, a small grin on his face as people leaned forward in their chairs in anticipation. And then, almost as if he just thought of it, he would say it.

“One more thing…”

There is so much DNA woven into this one statement. It pays homage to the cult of personality, which is so prevalent in technology. There is no other industry where the leading executives are widely known by their first names, such as Sergey, Larry, Meg, Mark and Marissa.

Part of this is the implied visionary benefit of these people knowing what you want before you do. But it helps to personalize this, because then it avoids becoming just another faceless corporation forcing things at you, and instead makes you the focus.

When Jobs strode onto that stage you knew you were not going to just get something new and something you had not expected, but also something that seemed as if it had been made for you. This singularity of focus, this implied connection between product and consumer, underpins the Apple brand.

 Which is why, in my mind, something strange happened during the presentation when CEO Tim Cook explained the multiple lines of Apple Watches by saying the audience had:

“A whole variety of different tastes and different preferences.”

With this one statement, suddenly Apple seemed a little less Apple. Apple has never followed the road of “all things to all people.” It distilled its view of the future, found the singular expression of that future, and then presented it to us without compromise. It didn’t chase the market, the market chased them. Suddenly the launch felt like another product driven by marketing analysis and focus groups, and a little less about creating a crave that seemed built for just us.

Will Apple sell millions of Watches? Of course they will. But something felt absent on Monday, a singularity of vision, if you will. The Watch satisfies the new market they are entering, with the required different versions and materials and sizes and bands. It’s all perfectly logical, but is logic why people flock to Apple?

That unexpected little bit of magic is the very center of the Apple DNA. And years from now we may look back and realize this was the day that Apple lost a little magic, and with it, we all may never see another One More Thing.

 Christopher Caen is a partner and chief brand strategist of Theory Associates, a strategic branding agency that creates demand for some of the world’s leading technology brands.  He can be reached at [email protected].