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Apple Memoji-fies leadership and why it matters

In honor of #WorldEmojiDay, Apple as Memoji-fied its leadership page. On the surface, it looks like a lighthearted, self-effacing way for Tim Cook, Angla Ahrendts, Jony Ive, Craig Federighi, et. al to have a little fun and be perceived as a little more human and in touch. That's nice PR.

Beyond that, we're about to go through the biggest transition in human interface in human history. Command Lines and GUI will have nothing on the AR- and voice-driven future. We won't just see interfaces, we'll be in them. And we won't just interface with them, they'll interface with us right back.

Throwing people into that directly will be disastrous. Like throwing someone from a cave into a disco.

So, Apple and others are introducing enhanced reality slowly and carefully, in ways the mainstream are best equipped to understand it: Games and avatars.

It's a candy coating around a paradigm shift, but that's why we have candy coatings. Games are fun, we'll engage with them. Avatars are, by their very nature, humanizing, and we'll bond with them.

You can look at things like Animoji and Memoji as gimmicks that people will try once or twice and then move on from. And that's fine. But you'll be missing out on the bigger picture — the people having tried them even once or twice and, in so doing, tried out face tracking and expression matching, and creating an AR representation of themselves.

That's one step closer to what comes next.

You can look at it as a simple implementation of the classic boil-the-frog strategy but that's what makes it so effective. Especially when you're getting the frog to help boil itself.

If Apple's leadership signing off on this bit not only brings a smile to some of its customer base, but helps thaw out and encourage even a few of the stiffer collars out there to give it a try as well, it's an easy win.

A couple notes:

  1. Wow but Jony Ive doesn't let himself smile, even in Memoji form.
  2. Craig Federighi greatly downplayed his hair.
  3. Great to see JG on the leadership page, his ML team is as critical to the future as Johny Srouji's team has been to the present.
Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

5 Comments
  • The thing that really annoys me about Apple is that they treat everyone like your technology-illiterate 90 year old grandma and it's irritating. They assume people can't adapt well to change, but we're very adaptable. Android changes things almost yearly and it's very easy to get used to the changes. Memojis are just as lame as Animoji and they should not even exist. Before people crucify me, I have both an iPhone X and a Google Pixel 2 XL.
  • Indeed. While I wholeheartedly agree with your post, I think Rene has a point (though his delivery wasn't great). I think Apple knows and understands their core customer as thorough as any company. Dare I say, we'd be hard pressed to find a company more keen. The kid gloves treatment fits well for the "I just want to turn it on and it works" segment that they cater to. I don't agree with it, but I do think it works.
  • Animoji and Memojis aren't for everyone, they're just a bit of fun. Memoji's are not as lame though, the customisation is really well thought through, but again it's just if you're into emojis and all that kind of thing
  • I haven't used the Animoji feature since the first day I had my device. It's pretty pointless and did nothing for the utility of the phone. I don't see any reason for Memoji to exist. It's just as lame as Animoji and it's just a novelty. Give me something useful with the technology, not fluff for teenage girls.
  • Rolling out iOS12 with animojis as the highlight, thats what they've been preaching, is a joke. Roll out something substantial that appeals to those at least out of high school. It only took Apple 10 years to work on gestures. Something that was pioneered by two companies over a decade ago. They're not new! Something simple and energy efficient like a dark theme is lost in the iOS eco system. Apple only provides a lame work around that is at best, a dismal failure.