This was Tim Cook's WWDC, not only headlined by a risky, heavily skeuomorphic, deeply gamified iOS 7, but wrapped in messaging that elaborated on their core beliefs, and re-affirmed a promise to the people who use their products. From the opening video to the closing words, Apple repeated that message, and a few things came to mind as I watched the video and the event:
First, Apple is hitting the California angle hard. California is, of course, Apple's home state, and part of the USA. It has its own unique culture and history, as every place does, and one deeply part of Apple since its founding. Over the last year or so, Apple's faced scrutiny over everything from their business practices in China, to the growing power of their competitors in Korea, to all the money they have in other countries, and the US tax implications thereof. Putting the focus back on America in general, and on design and California in particular -- especially with a hot new Mac Pro announced as being made in America -- cleverly re-orients perception. Apple's heart wasn't left in San Francisco. It was born there.
Second, a signature implies responsibility, like signing a contract. Apple wrapped their new messaging in a promise of quality and of principle. From putting their name on their work, to "not innovating anymore... my ass!", Apple looked people in the eye -- people who might be wondering if they'd lost their drive or edge or general magic -- gave them a little wink, and then did a little strut.
It wasn't the return of Steve Jobs or Think Different. It was a more complex, more nuanced message for a more complex, more nuanced time. Time will tell how effectively it resonates internally and externally, and how well the new Mac Pro or iOS 7 really portent Apple remaining at the height of their power.
But either way they've already shown Apple remains at the height of their guts.