Apple has a reputation for developing hit products.
But the company also has a rep for maintaining an iron grip on its image and its message. Wednesday’s launch of the iPad, a product whose details have been closely guarded by Apple for months ahead of the launch, showed Apple’s operation at its best.
To the surprise of many, Apple CEO Steve Jobs turned up at the demo room after the main event and appeared to be casually hobnobbing with Wall Street Journal tech columnist Walt Mossberg.
But the scene was hardly the impromptu, open conversation it appeared.
Most of the people gathered around Jobs and Mossberg were not fellow reporters hunting for a quote, but a squad of no-nonsense, plain-clothed Apple staffers who had formed a human cordon around their leader. The only other person allowed within the safe zone was Mossberg, and any reporters who attempted to get near were physically blocked and pushed back.
Conversations with Apple staff about the iPad itself proved equally trying, with the mere act of getting a company spokesperson to confirm or clarify a fact feeling like an exercise in the theatre of the absurd.
“How do I spell your name?” this reporter asked an Apple staffer following a short conversation to confirm certain basic features of the iPad.