SAN FRANCISCO—At a highly anticipated media event Tuesday at San Francisco's Moscone Center, Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs introduced a new Apple product he said would "revolutionize" the process of unveiling new products throughout the world.
"In 1984, Apple introduced the Mac," Jobs said to an overflowing crowd as an image of the first Macintosh computer was displayed on a giant screen behind him. "We changed the face of the music industry with the first iPod in 2001. And in January, we showed off the revolutionary new iPhone. Today, Apple is releasing a piece of innovative new technology that will forever change the way innovative new technology is released."
The iLaunch, as the new product is called, was then raised up from below the stage, prompting the audience of technology journalists, developers, and self-professed "Apple fanatics" to burst into a five-minute standing ovation.
"Get ready for the future of product introduction," said Jobs, looking resplendent in a black turtleneck and faded jeans. "The iLaunch will be able to make announcements from this, or any other stage, making human participation in generating consumer awareness almost entirely unnecessary."
The iLaunch runs Keynote-formatted presentations in high definition through a built-in projector while displaying a 3-D rotating image of the product. Voice-recognition software, Apple's most advanced to date, can recite a speech highlighting the features of the device while injecting several clever digs at competitors. Should a product demonstration experience a glitch or malfunction, the iLaunch boasts a complex algorithm that can automatically produce humorous and distracting quips.
Described in its patent filing as a "hype-generating mechanism with fully integrated Mac compatibility," the iLaunch is powered by Intel dual-core processors optimized to calculate a product's gravitas. Apple claims the iLaunch can garner the same amount of press attention as a major scientific discovery, high court ruling, celebrity meltdown, or natural disaster at 200 times the speed of a traditional media-fostered launch.
"If you want to condition the public to liken your product to the telephone and the internal combustion engine in importance, that's now possible with iLaunch," Jobs said. "And it's so easy, even an intern can use it."
According to Jobs, the innovative iLaunch not only makes product launching infinitely easier, it could forever change corporate structure itself.
"For too long, hands-on, maverick CEOs have devoted their valuable time to strutting around on stage and breathlessly describing the features of their new products, in the process encouraging cults of personality that could have a detrimental long-term effect on their companies," Jobs said. "Apple's goal within the next 12 months is to make me totally obsolete."
This comment earned the Apple CEO another, slightly longer, standing ovation.
As his presentation wound down, Jobs said there was "one more thing" he wanted to mention: The iLaunch automatically saves a significant, salient product feature for the end of a presentation, to surprise and delight audiences.
"Do you want to know what the surprise of this unveiling is?" said Jobs to the eagerly nodding crowd. "The iLaunch itself generated this entire presentation, as well as this very surprise."
Even amid fevered speculation, Apple was typically mum before the launch product's launch, and Mac rumor websites failed to predict any major details about the new offering, other than the fact that it was going to "change everything" and "be huge."
Post-launch reaction has been even more ecstatic.
"Before today, I couldn't imagine paying $12,000 for a product-unveiling product," CNET editor Jasmine France said after the presentation. "Now I can't imagine living without it."
Shortly after Jobs' address, Microsoft announced that they are working on a similar product, the Launch-O, due to debut in 2009.