If there’s one thing sure to set Mac fanboys into palpitations of leg-quivering, gusset-moistening excitement, it’s the ludicrous pretend ‘post-it note’ that Apple slaps on their site whenever a new product is due to be announced.
This pantomime – acted out several times annually – sees all the contents of a product page swept aside to be replaced by a yellow ‘sticky’ note proclaiming, “We’ll be back soon,” penned in a ghastly Comic Sans-alike font. Accompanying the note is the message, “We are busy updating the store for you and will be back shortly.”
Such is Apple’s hold on the media, the second this daft note appears, endless tech websites and blogs veritably explode with cascading rumours, rabid speculation, excited squeaking (“OMG! What can it be?!!!”) and flights of technological fancy, all helping to build up expectations to a frenzied froth of desire.
Of course, with no actual news to impart or shiny products to reveal, authors struggle to find any meaningful content to fill up their pages, so often resort to pasting up dubiously sourced ‘leaked’ photos, hopelessly inauthentic computer mock ups and fifth hand rumours said to be from some bloke who knew the cleaner at Apple.
When there’s not even any dodgy Photoshopped images around, bloggers are reduced to posting up screen grabs of the all import post-it note, with the more adventurous going as far as overlaying a time and date stamp, so the exact moment of the sticky note’s appearance is recorded for all time.
The longer the site is down, the higher the expectations build amongst the sticky-note-watchers, some of whom seem convinced that there’s some sort of correlation between the time down and the amazing brilliance of the soon-come product.
The fact that most major tech websites manage to update vast product ranges without the need to take the site off air for even a second seems lost in the excitement, with the pointless procedure taking on a ritualistic air, like the roll of a drum before a magician’s trick.
With the seconds ticking by, over-excited Apple aficionados relentlessly hammer their browser’s ‘refresh’ button in their keenness to be first with the news, while bloggers are poised by their web publishing tools, determined to be a nano-second ahead of rival sites.
The product launches!
Within moments of the hallowed post-it note disappearing, the quest for information is all-devouring. Every detail of the new product must be examined, compared, contrasted, screengrabbed and celebrated in the mad haste to get to the front of the iNews queue.
And when the articles finally go up, vast legions of wannabe experts are quick to praise or condemn the news. Apple fanboys fall over themselves to claim that the increased hard drive update is in fact a revelatory step forward for the future of computing, while troublemaking Windows fans are on hand to pour scorn and derision on exciting new products. And so it goes on until everyone gets bored.
There are times, however, when things backfire badly and the performance doesn’t go to plan. If Apple fail to deliver a killer product, web authors are left looking a bit silly when their pre-release trail of hyperbolic updates and enthusiastic bulletins lead to nothing more than a handful of minor product refreshes.
This failure to live up to the immense hopes of the note-watching masses can lead to a momentary rejection of all things Apple, with authors declaring the company washed up, over the hill and the total collapse of the Mac empire surely only minutes away. Until the next sticky note appears, of course.
While there’s no doubting that his bonkers piece of theatre is as absurd as an entire supermarket closing down just so a batch of new cakes can be put on display, there’s no denying that this tactic does a superb job of churning up vast amounts of valuable column inches for Apple.
No other company has the ability to excite so many people with just a pretend sticky note, so we take our hats off to Messrs Jobs & Co, the unrivalled Kings Of Hype.