Apple, a national treasure9/23/2015
Dear President Obama:
With the Iowa Caucus nearing and political drama starting to consume the news cycle, I’m sure you’ve heard the rumblings for a federal holiday on Election Day. Considering only half of eligible voters cast a ballot in 2012, think how big the voting pool would grow if people didn’t have to work. Not being a political activist, I have no idea if this has any chance of happening, but it seems to make sense when you take into account people who work multiple jobs, extended hours or overnight shifts. However, this letter isn’t about the election; it’s about tech. I’d like to propose a different holiday. Mr. Obama, please consider a federal holiday for Apple’s annual new iPhone announcement.
Now before you toss this letter in the recycle bin and cast it off as trivial, consider that more people own iPhones in America than vote in the Presidential election. Approximately 130 million voters pulled a lever for president in 2012, an admirable sum except when you take into account nearly 175 million Americans own an iPhone. Yes, that is absurd, but it makes sense. Apple is one of the largest companies in the world and, a few times, has traded as the most valuable company on the stock exchange. In fact, you may recall, during the government shutdown of 2013, much was made of the fact Apple had more cash on hand than the federal government!
No, I do not seriously think the federal government should dedicate an entire day to a private business. But would you consider an afternoon? If half of Apple’s 175 million iPhone customers secretly followed the announcement instead of worked, that would be alarming. Tack on top the number of people who can’t afford iPhones, own other smartphones but watch out of interest and people paying attention because of the other products being announced, and we’re talking a lot of lost productivity. One of your favorite sporting events, the NCAA college basketball tournament, is annually joked about causing billions of dollars in productivity loss to workers’ divided attention. When you weigh basketball fans versus smartphone acolytes, there’s a good chance the Apple announcement crushes that contest.
Sir, the odd thing is, many of the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and other device upgrades have been known for weeks by interested consumers due to the cottage industry of Apple rumor mongering. Seriously, if US Weekly or TMZ looked at their following versus Mac Rumors or Mac World, they might reconsider hounding starlets and jump on the tech espionage bandwagon. While Apple’s Sept. 9 announcement event formally unveiled the iPhone 6S’s new 3D Touch capability, new color options, slimmer design and other new features, literally all of those were public knowledge thanks to the rumor mill.
Mr. Obama, I’m sure you’re wondering why, if Apple-hungry fans already knew what was coming (better iPhone, Apple TV integration with Siri, new and larger iPad Pro, etc.), why do so many people tune in? The simple answer is Steve Jobs and the iPod. In 2001, when Apple released the first iPod onto the world, it was basically a complete surprise — a tech atomic bomb. It changed the way we consume, purchase and store music, and it forced the music industry into a new area of production and marketing.
I know, I know, you’re a proud Blackberry man, sir, but the iPhone was practically as revolutionary as the iPod. Luckily for the economy’s sake, nothing from this year’s announcement will have cultural or industrial impact as any of previous landmark releases, but considering how many potential voters might turn Democrat if you declared Apple’s annual September announcement a federal holiday, I think you know what you have to do.
Sincerely, Tech Talk. CV
Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. Follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb.