Nathaniel Ward

The future is going to be awesome, so let’s celebrate it

Charlie Warzel calls for an end to Apple product-launch events:

But what started as a Steve Jobs TED talk has become a parody — a decadent pageant of Palo Alto executives, clothed in their finest Dad Casual, reading ad copy as lead-ins for vaguely sexual jump-cut videos of brushed aluminum under nightclub lighting. The events are exhausting love letters to consumerism complete with rounds of applause from the laptop-lit faces of the tech blogging audience when executives mention that you (yes you!) can hold the future in your hands for just $24.95 per month or $599 with trade-in.

The entire event is at odds with our current moment — one in which inequality, economic precarity and populist frustration have infiltrated our politics and reshaped our relationships with once-adored tech companies. But it’s not just the tech backlash. When the world feels increasingly volatile and fragile, it feels a little obscene to gather to worship a $1,000 phone.

This is exactly wrong. The current moment requires more events like Apple’s.

John Gruber describes Apple events as escapism: “If anything, people look to them as relief from the current moment. Gadgets are fun.”

But they’re more than that. Apple’s events are celebrations of free enterprise and what it can achieve when unleashed.

In 2007, the best iPhone money could buy cost $740 in today’s dollars. Today’s base iPhone model costs $700, or five percent less than the 2007 model in real terms. For that price, you get a device that’s almost incalculably faster, more capable, and more useful.

Twenty years ago, a single album on CD might have cost $20 in nominal dollars. For half that cost every month, you can get unlimited access to virtually every song ever recorded through Apple Music.

These are achievements worth celebrating. These are reasons to be hopeful, not pessimistic, about the future.

If our moment is characterized by “economic precocity and populist frustration” there is no better antidote than a hopeful free enterprise. It is jubilant free-marketers, not dour scolds, who will solve today’s problems—and tomorrow’s.