Screengrab from Apple’s virtual Worldwide Developers Conference, June 20.

From emojis with face covers to silicon chips: Observations from the Apple frontline

Apple’s decision to drop Intel processors may be the biggest announcement from its Worldwide Development Conference (WWDC) this year, but there is an interesting media innovation story behind the much-hyped virtual affair.

published its first stock market live blog during the keynote, a world-first it claimed.

Instead of the usual live blog where a team of journalists provide snippets of what is being announced on stage in real time, the publication went the extra mile to provide a blow by blow account of how Apple stocks fared in real time as Apple announcements roll off the stage.

According to TechCrunch’s coverage, Apple shares are up 2.2% to $357.13 at the start of the keynote at 12:18 ET. It went up, slipped or remained flat at different times during the two-hour show, and ended just “2.30% as Tim Cook wraps up his notes” at 2:46 ET.

“We made this long, tedious joke about how Apple announcements don’t move its share price for two reasons,” the publication explained.

It’s verdict: “First, investors obviously have no idea what any of the company’s announcements mean. And, second, because that fact mocks fans of the efficient market theory. Investors big and small now have loads more information than they did, and, in their view, Apple’s shares are worth precisely what they were before. Huzzah.”

Though not exactly a rarefied field, technology is still very much a world unto itself although it definitely touches the lives of practically everyone. Throw in an extra layer of financial reporting chops such as a live market blog and you get it deeper into exclusive territory, albeit an unchartered one that should be explored some more.

But the dots do connect as there is a strong connection between tech and finance. Take Apple’s pivot to Apple Silicon, the tech giant’s own in-house designed ARM-based processors, from Intel, which have been speculated on for months. The usual tech crowd — hard core geeks, business people, analysts and observers — stirred as it swirled in the rumor mill.

Now that it is official, there is another aspect to watch closely: how Apple will make good on its move to drop Intel — and its implication to the chipmaker and the much wider ecosystem of computer manufacturing . It definitely has the bigger capability to move share prices or make or break corporate fortunes once it fully unravels.

It has been the tradition in tech to keep track of how share prices are affected by corporate announcements made in the scale of WWDC, and Apple has always been known to drop bombshells in its past events, which is perhaps the reason why TechCrunch thought of the innovative live market blog.

Some of these extremely memorable moments that were truly market moving include the announcement that it was getting rid of the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone in 2016, Steve Jobs carrying the then revolutionary MacBook Air from a brown envelope in 2010, the decision to discontinue the iPod line in 2014 despite its huge global success for over a decade, among others.

Hence, the tech crowd usually wait with bated breath what Apple may announce in its conferences. As usual, keen Apple watchers will be divided on whether this year’s keynote is more or less remarkable compared to previous years, but overall it did not disappoint.

For once, the spotlight is not on mobile but on the good old Mac, although it did not fall short either of announcements on the side of consumer pleasures.

Hear ye! Emojis with face covers, the Apple Watch hand washing guide, the redesigned iOs home screen with an app library that organises apps in curated categories, and to top it all, a re-imagined Siri with translation capability in 11 languages.

But lest people forget, WWDC, as its name suggests, is a developer conference, not a consumer show. Hence, the keynote is only the tip of the iceberg. There are over 100 live engineering sessions, one-on-one consultations with Apple engineers, developer forums and so much more, according to Cook.

With the planned pivot to Apple Silicon estimated to take two years, developers are now being encouraged to get started on the system as the company begins to establish a common architecture across all its products.

So, should you get an ARM-based MacBook later in the year or early next year? Admittedly, it is something to look forward to and if you are to believe Apple’s blitzkrieg, performance, power efficiency, and price will be the key advantages as the company gets full control of the design process by having its own processor.

Past the long list of innovations the Cupertino-based tech company unveiled, there is something very poignant and at the same time candid about this year’s WWDC.

As soon as Cook came out the stage, cameras zoom to the vacant 1,000-seater Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park, where the conference has been held since 2017, showing an empty nest, so to speak. The once frenzied hall filled to the rafters with tech enthusiasts is now still and empty.

The world has gotten used to diluted forms of human contact since the start of the pandemic, but the monumental absence of a live audience reminds everyone who had been part of the storied world of tech conferences — once magical and mesmerizing in its grandness — that the spectacle as we know it may be over.

With the empty seats and klieg lights as backdrop, Cook addressed the invisible audience — Apple’s community of 23 million developers and millions more tech enthusiasts — sitting at home across the world.

The show must go on.

Journalist based in Manila, travel enthusiast, bookworm.