Three iconic keynotes by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs that shook up the tech industry

Steve Jobs has been an icon for the tech industry ever since he first showed up on the stage to showcase the Apple Macintosh back in 1984. If he was alive today, we would have been treated to some more iconic products that would lead to Apple leading the way instead of following the market trend as it stands today.

It would have been Steve Jobs’ 62nd birthday and while he is no more, his ideas and creativity through Apple’s products live on. Talking about products from Apple and Steve Jobs, here’s looking back at those critical keynotes that really stood out for the brand and the man through the years.

Apple iPod (2001)

The first generation of the Apple iPod was released on 23 October 2001. “We love music” read the slide of the presentation, as Jobs introduced the pitch for what would be Apple’s first hero product, one that still has a shelf life 15 years later.

“No one has really found the recipe for digital music” he said as he showcased efforts by Sony, Creative and Sonic on stage. He went on to state that “People trust the Apple brand to get their great digital electronics from”. He put forth the current trends for portable music which back then consisted of CD Players, Flash Player, MP3 CD Player or a hard disk-based jukebox. And then mowed down the first three pointing out at the fourth, a hard disk-based player, saying “that’s where we want to be.”

Indeed Steve Jobs’ iPod was unlike any other player in the market because it was less bulky compared to what competitors had on offer. It could store a 1000 songs (which was a lot back in 2001) at 160K bit rate. It also packed in 20 minute skip protection which was impressive back then. While the event was unlike the Apple keynotes with cheering and applause that we have today, it is cool to look at the video above and see Jobs in action at his marketing best, pitching a product that would soon turn out to be Apple’s first hero product and bread-earner in the years to come.

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Apple iPhone (2007)

Moving forward in time Jobs’ presentation was a lot less serious with a much larger audience that also kept responding with a continued applause. Apple was better established in 2007 and had nailed its space not just with portable music players, but also the digital music industry thanks to iTunes.

Jobs started the iconic presentation with a fake iPhone that resembled a mock-up of a rotary keypad fused into an iPod. He began by defining the smartphone that basically was a phone+email+internet pointing out in particular the plastic physical keypads on some. He pegged the iPhone as an interplay of hardware and software, one that was unlike the Moto Q, the BlackBerry, the Palm Treo and the Nokia E62 that came with a keyboard that was present whether you needed it or not.

It was the first time Jobs pegged the idea of a software update bringing news features to smartphones, because “the buttons can’t change” and one could not add more buttons on smartphone to add more features.

He also shamed the stylus by saying, “Who wants a stylus?… Yuck!” and then pitched a pointing device that we are all born with, our fingers. After telling the audience present about how he wanted users to use the large display with multi-touch, Jobs also slyly claimed that it was patented.

Jobs then went on to pitch a revolutionary UI, desktop class applications, syncing with iTunes and more. While the reveal of the iPhone did not impress many, the demo was the better bit. The “cool” part was when Jobs finds Starbucks via the Maps app and places a call from the Maps app asking for 4,000 lattes before cutting the call. He sure left the audience impressed.

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Apple MacBook Air (2008)

Indeed one of Steve Jobs’ most impressive presentations would come just a year later at the unveiling of the Apple MacBook Air. The world was used to chunky laptops and even the slimmest ones back then were still a bit chubby by today’s standards. And all of it changed once the MacBook Air was presented.

The presentation started with the usual Mac Vs PC advertisements with both celebrating the New Year. The audience was even bigger and cheerful at Macworld in San Francisco, and Jobs’ was more than happy to announce that 2007 was a great year with 4 million iPhones sold. Jobs went on to announce some new features that would arrive via a software update to the iPhone,

There were some more announcement including iTunes movie rentals and then Steve Jobs introduced the all-new MacBook Air. Placing it between the MacBook and the MacBook Pro, Jobs called it “the world’s thinnest notebook”, comparing it with thinnest one around, the Sony TZ series.

Jobs then claimed with an envelope on the screen saying that the MacBook Air was so thin that it could fit into a manila envelope. While many expected it to be one of Jobs’ pranks, this one clearly was not.

Steve Jobs unveiled the Macbook Air from an envelope. Image: Bestpresentations

But upon opening the envelope, it was clear with all the expressions from the seated audience that this was no joke, but the shape of things to come.

These were just three moments out of the many presentations Jobs made, but they are important, because the products mentioned above also changed the industry in more ways than one. Capacitive displays are now commonplace on smartphones, there are now ultrabooks and more online media stores than you can count on your fingers.

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Like him or hate him, we do have Steve Jobs to thank for them.