Whether you love them or hate them, there’s no denying that Apple has managed to create a truly unique and powerful image for itself. The self-proclaimed “magic” that Apple creates isn’t just in its products, but it permeates the very culture that this company has managed to build around itself.

Part of that culture has been surprise and delight. They create beautiful objects with features and qualities that make users to touch, hold, and become possessive of them. They create experiences that are designed to be intensely personal and satisfying for a large number of people (which, because of human nature, makes them exactly the opposite to a few!).

Everyone expects big things from Apple. From the first iMac unveiled over a decade ago to the iPad earlier this year, Steve Jobs has orchestrated the launches of a number of products that have had the desired effect. These products have been wildly successful because of the amazing levels of positive hype and energy that gets built up around them, no matter what their actual qualities and shortcomings are. And so everyone wants to see how exactly he’s going to outdo himself and keep the buzz growing year after year. Job’s keynote speeches, typically at conventions held twice a year, have drawn millions of eager fans and industry watchers who just want to see the man in action, weaving his magic and pulling another wonder product out of his hat. Tech and gadget-related sites go into overdrive, some examining facts as arcane as patent office filings, and some simply throwing out random guesses, because everyone wants to read them! Journalists line up for hours to get good seats at the keynotes, and pride themselves on blogging Jobs’ every sentence live as he speaks!

Millions of Web surfers bring the most popular sites to a crawl, maniacally refreshing for up-to-the-second news (self included). And everyone loves the party! Just search YouTube for videos of Jobs announcing the iMac, G4 Cube, Titanium Powerbook and of course iPhone, and you’ll see the audience simply going wild. Pay special attention to the particularly delicious way in which Jobs plays the audience by seemingly ending his speech and then offhandedly remembering “Oh… and just one more thing…” before unveiling the piece de resistance!

All of that has worked so well in the past because Apple has been able to preserve complete secrecy about what it’s planning to launch, and everyone’s simply dying to know what’s going to happen. In past years, no matter how much speculation and how many rumors there have been, the entire truth behind an Apple product launch has never been known to the audience, let alone the vast majority of Apple employees! Jobs understands perfectly well that being surprised is the key to being delighted, and that is the key to generating the positive buzz cloud around his products.

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