Thursday, January 28

Setting Agendas: Apple iPad Trumps Presidential Address


A few days ago, Slate published what might have happened yesterday on if Steve Jobs would have delivered the State of the Union address as opposed to President Obama. Dubbed "The iState of the Union Speech" and penned by Christopher Beam and Josh Levin, the transcript provides a fun read.

Hmmm. Maybe it's more than a fun read. Internet trending last night suggests people seemed more attuned to Jobs's launch of the wildly anticipated iPad, despite criticisms, than President Obama delivering the State of the Union address. My friend Geoff Livingston had this on his mind last night.

"Only in America can the iPad and Lost trump the State of the Union. Think about that," he wrote on Facebook. Okay...

It's not America. It's communication.

Jobs opened with an emphasis on words like "better," "going," and "enjoying" as he delivered what could be summed up as a window into the future. And, if the iPad does everything Apple says it can do, the future looks to be a mere one step away from what we suggested it might be last week. Except, maybe it won't be docks that connect everything as much as WiFi.

“iPad is our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price,” said Jobs. “iPad creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.”

President Obama opened with an emphasis on words like "disagreements," "recession," and "fears" as he delivered what could be summed up as a glimpse of what he would like to do, which is what most Americans thought he ought to have been doing all along. Those were the same kind of words that he associated with the previous administration, which allowed him to call for change. But nowadays, those words only reinforce the feeling associated with his administration.

"Next, we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow," said President Obama. "From the first railroads to the Interstate Highway System, our nation has always been built to compete. There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products."

The choice seemed clear enough. One speech focuses on the next step. The other focuses on what might be three steps ahead. One speech focuses on what Apple is doing. The other focuses on what America should be doing. One accepts responsibility for moving forward. The other asks for other people to move forward.

Sure, equating a hardware launch to the State of the Union is comparing apples to oranges. And yet, when both compete for the attention of Americans, people didn't tune in to one and tune out another because one is fun and seems serious. They tuned in to talk about one because it represents everything the other didn't deliver — innovation as opposed to limitation.

It might be worthwhile to make other comparisons. Jeffrey Hill created word clouds between last night's State Of The Union and previous presidencies. At a glance, one notable difference between last night's speech and other presidents: President Obama seems to place the emphasis on the American people to do something to move forward whereas others placed an emphasis on what they were going to do to help the American people move forward.

Maybe Christopher Beam and Josh Levin's piece in Slate wasn't such a bad idea after all. Jobs might have made us feel better about the direction of things because Jobs would have been the priority 12 months ago.

1 comments:

Rich on 1/29/10, 7:31 PM said...

More Words:

Mashable conducted an analytic review of the two speakers as well. And while they mention Obama seemed to have less buzz and more positive reviews, they forgot to apply math.

Given the size of the audience, Steve Jobs received about 2 million more positive mentions than the president. Of course, all of Steve Jobs buzz doesn't count until the iPad hits the streets. Most people doomed the iPhone and Kindle to failure until they started to ship.

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