Why Steve Jobs’ keynotes matter

May 31, 2011, 2:49 PM UTC

They are the reason Apple’s shares leaped out of the box at the opening bell Tuesday.

Jobs at Macworld 2007

The key words in the press release Apple (AAPL) issued Tuesday morning were not OS X Lion, iOS 5, or iCloud — the three components of what the company is billing as the “next generation software.”

As important as the operating systems and services to be unveiled next week at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference may be, they had already been telegraphed to investors and baked into Apple’s share price. In fact, one of the reasons given for the stock’s lackluster performance lately had been that these software advances — and not a new iPhone — were all that Apple was planning to showcase at WWDC.

No, the four words that set the Street’s hardened hearts aflutter — and Apple’s share price soaring nearly 2% in early morning trading — were “Steve Jobs” and “keynote address.” [The stock closed at $347.83, up $10.42 (3.09%) for the day.]

The news here is that Jobs, who is on medical leave, is well enough to give the keynote and that he feels what Apple is introducing is important enough to be given the Steve Jobs imprimatur.

What makes a Jobsian keynote different from any other presentation by any other CEO?

It helps that he generally delivers the goods in terms of new products with real impact. But he also works hard to deliver them with some drama and flair. Insiders say he prepares his product introductions as if they were Broadway shows. The format is deceptively simple: a setup, a twist, and a big reveal. It’s actually surprising that no other high-tech luminary seems to have mastered the form.

To give you a feel for what’s involved, check out the first 4:47 minutes of one of Jobs’ signature performances: the January 2007 Macworld keynote at which he introduced the iPhone.


Next week’s keynote begins Monday June 6 at 10 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. EDT). We’ll be there to live blog it, the gods of Wi-Fi permitting.

Below: the text of Apple’s press release.

Apple to Unveil Next Generation Software at Keynote Address on Monday, June 6
CUPERTINO, California—May 31, 2011—Apple® CEO Steve Jobs and a team of Apple executives will kick off the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) with a keynote address on Monday, June 6 at 10:00 a.m. At the keynote, Apple will unveil its next generation software – Lion, the eighth major release of Mac OS® X; iOS 5, the next version of Apple’s advanced mobile operating system which powers the iPad®, iPhone® and iPod touch®; and iCloud®, Apple’s upcoming cloud services offering.

WWDC will feature more than 100 technical sessions presented by Apple engineers. Mac® developers will see and learn how to develop world-class Mac OS X Lion applications using its latest technologies and capabilities. Mobile developers will be able to explore the latest innovations and capabilities of iOS and learn how to greatly enhance the functionality, performance and design of their apps. All developers can bring their code to the labs and work with Apple engineers.

For more details, visit the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2011 website at developer.apple.com/wwdc.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced iPad 2 which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.