Circle of life: The rise, fall, and rebirth of every Apple product on the Internet
In the short term, you could use this as a cut-out-and-keep guide to Apple products. In the much longer term, time travellers could use it as a way to figure out which year they are in. Pick an Apple product, and you can then see when you are by just figuring out where you are in the loop.
Admittedly, there's a sometimes very long patch at the start of an Apple product's life in which it doesn't actually exist. There are rumors, and they get so loud or so often repeated that we all come to believe them despite our better judgment. Right now, that's some kind of Apple Glasses, and, of course, the Apple Car.
Then, of course, once a rumor is believed, we're off to the races. On any given day, you can read a commentary or a tweet or a newspaper article stating as fact that Apple is doing it. And also stating as fact that Apple must do it, or the company will die. And, sometimes in the very same piece, a statement of fact that Apple cannot do it, they're too late.
At some point between one and five years later, Apple announces it.
It used to be that Apple would do that "good morning" schtick, followed by how this is the best product they've ever made. And then they'd end the presentation with those great words, "available today."
That's long gone now, mostly because of how much bigger Apple is now than it was before. Unfortunately, it's created a new hiatus for commenters to fill, but as of the moment a new Apple product is unveiled, certain things must happen.
The new Apple product will not be anything at all like everyone said it would. It will definitely be late to the market, that's guaranteed, but it will also feature Apple's figurative trademark. This new product, whatever it is, will do something or utilize something or feature something that is so obvious — but only in retrospect — that everybody else will copy it.
Not that they'll admit this at first. Initially, rival manufacturers are required to mock Apple for it.
Everybody who dislikes Apple will hate the new product, actual use or release is unnecessary.
They'll find some Android or Microsoft device which once had something a bit like this new feature Apple has introduced, and they will scoff. They'll just simultaneously ignore that if it's on an Android phone, it was on just one of the thousands, and it never took off. If it's a Microsoft product, they'll ignore that it's still saddled with Windows, and that it never took off.
All of this will go on while we enter the interregnum between Apple's unveiling and Apple's actual shipping of the product. We always know when that will be, because Apple always tells us — and Apple always pushes it.
The new Mac Pro is currently in this part of the cycle, with a date sometime later this year. There have already been Windows PC builds or Hackintoshes that are claimed to be more powerful — except they always leave out bits that the builder deems as non-important.
The product will ship on or about the last possible day that it can to still count as being when they said. So "by the end of the year" means anywhere from mid-December to around the 31st.
People actually handle the product after the keynote presentation. It doesn't matter whether they did or not, though, because again, the news cycle script demands certain reactions.
It's too expensive. That one is guaranteed, it is a total certainty that people will say Apple's new product, whatever it is, costs too much. To be fair, Apple really pushes it on the price, but also to be fair, it's usually the case that you couldn't make even a rough equivalent for what they're charging.
Partly because of the expense, critics will conclude that nobody but "Apple sheep" will buy it. This is generally coupled with cries that nobody will want it, and also Apple is far too late to the market.
At the same time, other manufacturers will be rushing rival versions to market. And, yes, for "other manufacturers," read "Samsung."
On that last day, at that last possible moment before you could say Apple is late, Apple ships the product. Apple shipped the iMac Pro and the 2013 Mac Pro like this, with days or hours left to go in the year.
We must love boxes
Instantaneously, you get unboxing videos by the metric ton. Every pixel of the product is detailed, compared and analysed. As part of this, there will be fans making YouTube videos about how great it is, haters making YouTube videos about how bad it is, and everyone making videos about how terrible everybody else's videos are.
We don't know it yet, but we're already in the waning days of the product. AirPods are in this stage, though chiefly because we can no longer remember a time before them.
After release, discussion begins about next mystery Apple product. The new release has been out for an hour, and the hot takes flow, saying what Apple is definitely going to do next time.
It doesn't matter that what Apple is actually going to do is iterate on this product, making it better and better with each version.
There may be a brief calamity as someone, somewhere, finds something wrong with the product and there two things can happen. Apple may fix the problem quietly. Or it might huff and puff about it, but it'll still get fixed in the end, if you just hang on in there.
And by now, this new product that we have waited for, built up, knocked down, criticized for being way too expensive, yet also then bought, will be the norm. It's part of the Apple product range.
You forget that it was ever new. You may even forget about it completely, especially if it doesn't happen to be a device that you personally will need.
Only, your actual needs go out of the window when the next thing happens. Apple replaces it with an upgraded version that is much better and yet at the same price. And your actual desires go out of the window when, eventually, Apple discontinues the product entirely.
Hall of fame
At that point, we go into the special endgame reserved only for Apple products, and even then, only some of them. There are plenty that are just forgotten instantly, but there are others that somehow regenerate into suddenly venerated objects.
You didn't buy one, not enough people bought one, or Apple would've continued it. But, now this discontinued product is a beloved classic of Apple design and it is a travesty that it's gone.
It is apparently so much of a tragedy that it gets one more stab at holding our attention — or rather, it gets several of the same type. This now beloved vintage classic becomes the subject of fond memories, written up on its fifth, tenth, fifteenth and twenty-first anniversaries.
Since this is what happens with absolutely every single Apple product of any description ever made, and as it happens in exactly this sequence every single time, it's only surprising we can keep track. Fortunately, that's what Wikipedia is for.
Once you've heard the same criticisms of a not-yet-released product enough times, you do start to think about all this. And it's startling how what we've described here tongue-in-cheek turns out to have really solid, repeated basis in fact. Yet there is also this — only Apple products go through such a specific cycle of prediction, anticipation, release, criticism, and reverence.