I’ve seen Steve Jobs deliver a number of riveting keynotes over the years — but nothing reflects Jobs’ journey back to Apple in 1997 and the turnaround he executed there more than the keynote speeches he delivered at Macworld from 1998 on.
We start when Jobs delivered his first keynote as “interim CEO” at Macworld in 1998. He’d been back only a year, and in the first video, below, he seems unsure of himself. He describes how Apple wasn’t going down the drain after all. He thanks Microsoft for helping to bail out Microsoft. And he explains his plan to turn around the company by slashing costs and by other means.
The previous three quarters were profitable, he says, something few at the time believed would ever again be possible. When Jobs returned, Apple was on the edge. It was on the edge no longer, he says here. I love how he points out that the slowest G3-based system from Apple blew doors off the fastest Intel Pentium II design at the time.
“It’s faster than any (Intel PC) machine money could buy,” he says. And then he brings in a DVD drive he claims could play real movies on the PowerBook. He asks: Can you imagine? to a seemingly skeptical crowd. The demo proceeds flawlessly AND the crowd goes wild. You can see the relief on his face. For Jobs, in 1998, this keynote was truly key.
In 1999, Apple’s fortunes were already beginning to skyrocket. In the next video, Jobs, introduced on stage by the actor who played him in Pirates of Silicon Valley, says Apple just completed its seventh straight profitable quarter.
This one’s funny, too. Actor Noah Wyle says he is “just glad” he didn’t upset Jobs with his portrayal of him in the movie. Jobs, in a self-deprecating moment, says, “Who, me?” At this Macworld 1999 keynote, he announces QuickTime 4.0, bragging that Lucas Arts wanted to use it to show Star Wars: A Phantom Menace for online viewing. “We now do live Internet streaming better than anyone,” and promises to give Real (Networks) a “real one for its money.” And he announces QuickTime TV. Hmm.
With each keynote, you can see his confidence grow. In his 2000 keynote, Jobs says his signature line, “One more thing.” He says, “For the first time in two and a half years, we are expanding our desktop strategy. And it is NOT affordable!” It is the G4-based Cube — inside is a really fast chip, he says, plus up to 1.5GB RAM. And Airport is in there, too.
“What so new and special?” Jobs asks rhetorically. “I’ll tell you. We have miniaturized all this power into an 8-inch cube. Unbelievable.” No fan. Nope. Tons of power, for the time, and it runs “in virtual silence.” He demoes the PowerMac G4 Cube to a stunned crowd. And as he says, it sure wasn’t cheap.
At Jobs’ Macworld keynote in 2001, we see a turning point. After ranting about substandard MP3 devices on the market, he announces the iPod. The rest is, as we all know, history. (I am listening to iTunes on my PC as I write this.)
Music is his passion, Jobs says, and you can’t lose by following your passion. This iPod, he says, holds 1,000 songs on its 5GB drive — “a quantum leap” beyond what’s ever been available. “Your entire music library fits in your pocket.” This was Jobs’ breakthrough moment and the beginning of Apple’s mobile business, which today outpaces its standalone computer business by a long shot.
In 2002, Jobs spends less time warming up the audience. He is more confident now. He gets right into it at Macworld in San Francisco that year, quoting huge progress since the last address. He quotes the great success of iPod in the media — the first iPods shipped on 11/10/00 and 12/10/00 — and Jobs crows he sold more than 125K of them in that period. And then … he announces he has 27 Apple Stores up and running. Forty percent of people buying computers in stores, he says, have never owned a Mac. Then he announces and demos Mac OS X. Powerful, he says, because it will bring Unix and Mac programmers together to create the best OS on Earth.
It’s 2003 now. And this one’s the money. Jobs says Apple’s notebooks are now leading the industry. And in the final half hour of that keynote, he announces with the 17-inch PowerBook, landscape screen. “Where did we get this?” he asks. “Well, I wonder it.” Thinner backlight, stunning display and when you close it, he says, “it’s only 1-inch thick.” He says it is the “most incredible product we have ever made.” At the time, it really was. “It’s the most advanced notebook on the planet,” he says: a wide-screen display, ambient light sensors, full-featured notebook at only 16.8 pounds.” Jobs says he built it using an unpainted alumninum alloy. “I don’t know what our competitors are going to do about this.” And look at that keyboard, he says. AND the crowd goes nuts. Check out the specs, including FireWire 800, twice as fast than 400. “It screams.”
In 2004, Jobs gets a bit emotional and remembers what the world was like 20 years before, when, he says, “the Mac came out and changed everything.” Success is the best revenge. This is just a joy to watch because now, if you had a doubt to this point whether Jobs could keep this up, this announcement settles it. Check it out. He announces OS X Panther — and says that “Microsoft is copying us again for the first time in years.” Ha. Now see what else he announces …
In 2005, Jobs at Macworld unleashes the Mac Mini, iWork and iPod Shuffle. They laughed at the iPod Shuffle at the time, but you know what, they laughed at Christopher Columbus, too. And look at the London Apple Store, he announces — the second highest-grossing Apple store in the world and the first one in Europe.
At Macworld in 2006, Apple is spinning forward at an incredible rate. And after he says, “Just one more thing,” he shocks with this: He announces the first ever MacBook Pro with Intel inside. New name and new CPU — dual processors in every Macbook Pro — which he claims is up to five times faster than the PowerBook G4. It’s even thinner than the inch-thick Powerbook and it has … gasp… a camera built in! Again the crowd goes wild. He calls video conferencing to go, which this enables, “just heaven.”
In 2007, Jobs announces the iPhone. He is almost moved to tears — you can see it if you watch closely — as he says how lucky he has been to be able to release not just one but several revolutionary products in his career. This takes the cake, he says. It’s a great video and really pretty hilarious, too.
At Macworld 2008, Jobs unveils the Macbook Air. “There’s clearly something in the air today,” he says before unveiling it. Minds are blown.
After 2008, Jobs started making announcements at his own events, having spun off Macworld over to IDG. All that’s online.
I hope you enjoyed this tour through time. If you can make the time — it’s precious, we all know — try to watch these in order.
I haven’t done a tribute to Steve Jobs yet. This is mine. To watch Jobs re-enter so shakily and move so aggressively forward is a treat beyond belief for tech lovers. The keynotes are funny, techie, and telling. I hope you love it and much as I loved curating all this.
I’m ready for Macworld 2012. How about you?