The Silence of the Fans

philschillerMac fan Lesa Snider King is understandably none too pleased with Apple’s decision to pull out of Macworld Expo as of 2010. She’s come up with a unique way to express her ire: She’s organizing Silent Keynote, an effort to get folks in attendance at Phil Schiller’s Macworld Expo keynote next month to remain silent as a form of protest. (Lesa says she’s not ticked off that it’ll be Schiller up there instead of Steve Jobs, incidentally.)

My first impulse was to scoff at the idea–why try to damage Schiller’s demo in reaction to an Apple business decision? But Apple fans are entitled to respond to Apple doings as they see fit. And I can see the logic behind trying to deny Apple one of its most powerful marketing tools: The intense, bordering-on-the-scary enthusiastic response to Apple news. If you’re not happy with Apple, you might not reward it with clapping, hooting, hollering, and/or repeated standing ovations. That makes sense. Nobody can demand that someone express pleasure if that person is, in fact, really angry. (And Lesa King isn’t advocating booing, hissing, or the hurling of rotten fruit and vegetables. That, I think we can all agree, would be inappropriate.)

The strongest argument against Silent Keynote is probably this: It’s very, very unlikely to make Apple reconsider its decision to end support of Macworld Expo. It might even make it dig in its heels.

Of course, Phil Schiller will be operating at a severe disadvantage anyhow, having been born with a handicap shared by most of us: He’s not Steve Jobs. One suspects that the reaction to his presentation would have been on the subdued side regardless of whether there were organized efforts to make it so.

Me, I’m most likely not going to applaud or cheer Schiller’s news, even if he unveils a $200 Mac supercomputer-class netbook that doubles as a personal jetpack: As a member of the press, I almost never give the people I’m covering so much as a polite clap or two, regardless of whether I’m impressed or not. (Hey, it compensates for the throngs in Macworld Expo keynotes who go into ecstasy when Steve Jobs announces things like the fact that Apple wasn’t going to include a keyboard or mouse with the Mac Mini.) As far as I can remember, the last time I applauded Mr. Jobs was in the mid-1980s, when I went to a demo of his NeXT cube–I wasn’t a tech journalist at the time, and therefore let all of my enthusiasm hang out.

But I’m a contrarian to my core, so who knows? I may give Schiller a brief round of dignified applause when he comes onstage. The poor guy will probably need the support. One way or another, it’ll be fascinating to be in that room, even if Apple’s news that morning isn’t fascinating in the least.

Here, by the way, is a preview of what the Philnote may be like if Lesa King’s protest takes off–starting at 2:58 (looks like WordPress won’t let me embed part of a YouTube video):


9 comments

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  1. Chris Lloyd December 19, 2008 at 12:27 pm #

    “(And Lesa King isn’t proposing booing or the throwing of rotten fruit and vegetables.)”

    Shoes would be so much more topical

  2. DaveD December 19, 2008 at 2:45 pm #

    “The strongest argument against Silent Keynote is probably this: It’s very, very unlikely to make Apple reconsider its decision to end support of Macworld Expo. It might even make it dig in its heels.”

    Actually I can think of a few stronger arguments.

    (1) It comes off making one feel all attendees are spoiled brats. What you wanta go stomping your feet all over the place because Steve isn’t announcing more goodies?

    (2) It comes off making one feel these people simply don’t understand that Apple is a company – and a very successful one at that.

    (3) Apple fanatics won’t feel this, but just about the entire rest of the world would be laughing their collective butts at these people.

    Here’s the bottom line – over the past 24 months Apple has released some fantastic products – but many were either late and/or of “beta” quality.

    I see this announcement as very good.

    As a stockholder I can relax a bit and not expect the usual gyrations that surround the first two weeks of January. (But there’ll always be the third week when they have their earnings call.)

    As a consumer I can expect that the next round of product announcements – be it 2009 or (as I’m beginning to think) 2010, the products will be *ready*.

    As a developer? I’m interested if there’ll be a keynote at WWDC next year.

  3. Harry McCracken December 19, 2008 at 7:31 pm #

    @Chris Lloyd: True! But I’ve been watching Keith Olbermann and have sort of overdosed on shoe-throwing references–they’re the Joe the Plumber of the moment…

    @Dave D: Thanks for the comments!

  4. Lawrence December 20, 2008 at 3:52 pm #

    I agree with DaveD. This gives Apple the ability to release products on THEIR schedule, not on the schedule of some third party production company. They can now time their releases for the maximum effect for both marketing and engineering.

  5. mala December 20, 2008 at 4:14 pm #

    Lesa needs to grow up…..and quick!

  6. Mike December 20, 2008 at 4:48 pm #

    Let David Pogue do the Keynote!

  7. PDXOtaku December 20, 2008 at 7:19 pm #

    I fail to see what this would accomplish, other than making those participating look like spoiled brats. If Apple doesn’t need to do trade shows anymore, so what? If Steve wants to take a break, good for him, let him. Why punish Schiller, who’s just doing his job? I’m as big of an Apple fan as you will find almost anywhere, with two Apple certs under my belt, but this display of juvenile entitlement will just embarrass the fandom.

  8. madpete December 21, 2008 at 12:42 am #

    The sooner Apple is rid of the cultist fanbois the better. These people are a disgrace to other Mac users. They are the ones on the forums insisdting there is nothing wrong with your computer while it is exploding.

    Good riddance to these madmen.

  9. Gary O December 21, 2008 at 7:38 pm #

    I intend to tell the vendors a this years MacWorld that I plant of attend in 2010 and encourage the vendors to sign up for 2010. The small vendors are what keep me coming back to MacWorld year after year, not the Apple booth.