Leaks to tech industry sites give us a sense of what to expect from Apple's coming product announcement: Not one, but two new iPhone models. One will be more affordable, to reach international markets. The other, which we believe will be called the iPhone 5S, will come in gold or champagne colors.
When a company that once revolutionized personal electronics and changed our culture sets up a big reveal for relatively small product enhancements, is it worth so many megabytes of news coverage? We (at NPR and other organizations) don't usually cover Ford announcements when it updates its SUV line. Or when other appliances in our lives are suddenly available in new colors. I was excited about all those colorful front-loading washer-dryers a few years back, but I didn't write about it.
Of course, Apple gets a special place in the cultural zeitgeist because in the Steve Jobs era, new concepts or user interfaces would come out of these product reveals, and they would mean major shifts in the industry and the way we behave. But in a sign of Apple's waning magic, the conversations we're having around the newsroom are not how to cover Apple's announcement, but whether we should do a full piece at all. CNN Money writes that Apple's innovation problem is real:
"Rivals have caught up to Apple in the markets it once dominated, and the tech giant's rumored future products appear to be more evolutionary than revolutionary. A smartwatch and an 'iTV' are intriguing, but they're niche products that won't set the world on fire like the iPhone and iPad did.
"Plus, the golden days of hockey-stick-like growth in Apple's core products are over. Phones and tablets from Samsung and others who make devices running on Google's Android have outsold the iPhone and iPad. Apple's shares have tumbled 30% over the past year, partly due to concerns that Apple has nothing new up its sleeve."
That said, there is still plenty of hype surrounding the announcement. This is how it goes with hype cycles — lots of breathless commentary in anticipation, social media all atwitter during the moment, then, the inevitable denouement. Get ready, hype will climax in 3, 2, 1 ...