Technology often comes across a few defining moments. At the Apple Event 2019 hosted by the company at Steve Jobs Theatre in Cupertino last night, the iPhone 11 launch keynote highlighted the new front camera feature of recording slow motion videos. Nonchalantly, Apple let slip a new word for the world, and particularly Twitter, to talk about — "slofies". The rationale is simple — slow motion selfies. However, instead of breaking the internet, the reaction from the meme-bearers of the world across Twitter and Instagram have been lukewarm at best, bringing to perspective the impact of Apple as not just a purveyor of technology, but as an iconic pop culture brand.
Back in the day, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs lent much of his cultural leanings into how he imagined the philosophy of his company should develop. The brand aspired to create products that would be seen for much more than just a piece of gadget. The best example of its kind is the iPod, which was by no proportion the world's first portable music player. However, Jobs and his team at Apple got it just right — neatly designed, compact and unassuming, with a click wheel that showed everyone how easy and convenient it could be to sift through thousands of tracks stored in one tiny piece of plastic-clad wiring. Some time down the line, the iPod became synonymous with portable music players of any kind, and actually played a major role in the rise of the portable music industry — ears plugged, inconspicuous player clipped on, and a rebellious streak in sight.
The reason why this is significant is because back then, the halo around Apple was building up to its crescendo. Yahoo, Sony and Nokia were the biggest names in technology back then, and none of them could capture the imagination of millions of people the way Apple did with products like the iMac, the iPod and the iPhone. Switch to 2019, and Apple's halo has travelled the curve. Its products no longer stand are still top notch performers with super premium builds, but they don't quite stand out in a crowd the way the iPod Classic did, or for that matter, the iPhone 5s of 2013.
Take, for instance, yesterday's iPhone 11 launch. While the new iPhones are right now all over the internet, this is no exception in today's technology journalism. None of the phones, or for that matter any of the announcements, really wowed people, or took them by surprise. It speaks volumes when at a hardware launch event, one of the biggest takeaways for many turn out to be a word that describes slow motion self-video recordings. Today, instead of standing for a brand that turned technology announcements into the atmosphere of a rock concert, Apple stands for one of the handful of big technology brands that rule the roster — and that's that. The way Apple once made heads turn has somewhat dissolved.
That said, Apple still showed glimpses of its prowess when it came out with the AirPods. Despite the memes and initial skepticism, the Apple W1 chip's seamless connectivity and convenience is yet to be matched by anyone in the audio industry, catapulting the AirPods to a much-revered status. However, despite having probably sold more units than the iPods, would you remember the AirPods as greater pop culture icons than the iPod? Most likely not. It is this, that makes us feel that just like many things Apple over the past few years, "slofies" would not quite have the same impact in history and pop culture.
Sure, if there is one company that can still pull it off, it would be Apple. But, in a world strewn with smartphones, slow motion videos would most likely not catch people's fancy, be it with the front camera or with an unusual word.