For Apple, No News Is Big News

The stories out of an annual Apple convention are pretty humdrum, but fans are nonetheless enraptured.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook enters the stage during the Apple Developers Conference in San Francisco, Monday, June 11, 2012. Apple says it's introducing a laptop with a super-high resolution "Retina" display, setting a new standard for screen sharpness. The new MacBook Pro will have a 15-inch screen and four times the resolution of previous models, Apple CEO Tim Cook told developers at a conference in San Francisco.

News flash! Apple plans to bottle air, and sell it in a small white jar with the Apple logo on it for $99. Customers are already camping outside Apple stores, so they can be the first to buy iAir when it goes on sale in three weeks.

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I made that up, because it seems like there's not a lot of actual news coming out of the annual World Wide Developers Conference that Apple sponsors in San Francisco. I thought readers might like to imagine Apple doing something really outlandish, as an antidote to the incremental tidbits of "news" Apple is actually dribbling out.

Except that obviously I don't understand Apple and its mystical grip on the adult consciousness. As I write, four of the five most popular stories on the Wall Street Journal's web site are about Apple. The top story is a day-old live blog of the keynote presentation at the conference.

Here's what I learned from that: Scalpers are selling tickets to the event for much more than the $1,599 face value. Attendees ran from the entry gates to the area of the keynote presentation the moment they got in to the Moscone convention hall. It felt like a rock concert. Teenage app developers are attending the show this year. Apple executives announced a few modest updates to various Apple products. Then, toward the end of the on-scene report, the Journal blogger summed it up: "Very few surprises and nothing to say about TV or Apple TV. I'm heading out to survey the crowds."

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I guess if you were there to survey the crowds, it was really exciting, because everybody seemed to be buzzing about updates that seemed more and more important as the week-long event wore on. For instance, a new line of Mac computers is coming, and they have more storage and computing power! Not only that, they're going to cost a few dollars less. Summoning Gordon Moore: Is this really possible?

Mac devices will get an upgraded operating system. When General Motors updates a car or General Electric updates a refrigerator, you barely know about it, because the news is buried in a dull trade journal somewhere. But when Apple upgrades its systems, it is news because … everybody fully expected Apple to do that, and they did it. Hooray!

Apple is apparently the one outfit that believes Facebook is still worth a damn, because it now plans to integrate Facebook features into its operating system. Facebook shares skyrocketed from on the news, from $27 to $27.33.

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Sixteen years after MapQuest debuted on the Interet, Apple has decided to develop its own proprietary digital maps. This revolutionary move is a big threat to Google, whose maps Apple has been using until now. Google is now expected to wither and die, because once Apple turns on you, there's nowhere to go but down.

Siri, the know-it-all synthesized voice, will soon be able to talk to you in your car through your iPhone or iPad. Next year, Apple plans to rent the Bayshore Freeway for a week and hold the World Wide Developers Conference in cars, to demonstrate Siri's amazing ability to calm thousands of drivers simultaneously. Driving will never be the same.

Also, Steve Jobs wasn't there this year. Everybody really missed him.

Rick Newman is the author of Rebounders: How Winners Pivot From Setback To Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.