WWDC keynotes don’t often have a story.
What does Apple have ready to ship this June? That Mac hardware and this piece of software and those developer tools? Perfect. That’s the WWDC keynote. It’s a hodgepodge of announcements, leading to headlines that read “Apple announces new Macs and software at developer conference” and you can practically see the general public’s eyes skipping over to the next article.
In June 2010, Apple had lots of things ready to announce. A completely redesigned Mac mini. Safari 4.1 with several cool new features. Xcode 4 with a whole new user interface.
None of that made the keynote though. After a brief victory lap for the iPad, Steve devoted the entire 2 hours to the iPhone 4, a product that already had its own story, starting a few months earlier.
On April 19, 2010, 11 days after the iPhone OS 4.0 event, Gizmodo published its infamous article showing pictures of an iPhone 4 lost in a bar in Redwood City. Gizmodo got an insane amount of publicity and pageviews, and was blackballed by Apple PR until the Apple Watch keynote in September 2014.
Gizmodo, which put its entire reputation on the line with this exposé, was more worried about getting called out for having a fake iPhone than the repercussions of having a real one. They asked for and received confirmation from Apple that this was their property.
So the story going into WWDC was that Apple blew the debut of the new iPhone. The public has already seen it. It has weird black lines on the aluminum sides. It has a flat black shiny plastic back. It has a front-facing camera for you to use iChat with. Maybe it has a higher resolution screen.
So when Steve finally introduced his last - and likely his favorite - iPhone, he went all in. He started with the new design. “Now, stop me if you’ve already seen this,” he said. “Believe me, you ain’t seen it.”
He still had a few surprises up his sleeve, like the gyroscope, but he had an even better story for the already-spoiled features. It’s not just higher resolution; you can’t even see the pixels. It’s not just a better rear camera, you can actually make HD videos in iMovie right on the phone. And the glass back, steel sides and build quality are akin to a Leica camera.
The story that came out of Moscone was entirely and unequivocally: “Trust me, you’re going to want an iPhone 4”
The new Mac mini, with its unibody enclosure and $100 price hike, was unveiled with a press release the following week.