Christmas day, the 11th of January.

Tuesday, January 11th, 2005

Most of you know that the Apple Macintosh has been an important part of the tools I use since 1984, and my admiration for the machines Apple makes extends back to the Apple ][ days.

And since the Second Coming of Steve Jobs, the annual announcements in January from Jobs-san, onstage, clad in blue jeans and a black turtleneck, have been eagerly (to say the least) anticipated by the Mac faithful.

Mac faithful! That, of course, is the phrase everyone uses. In fact, the jargon of religion and cults seems to suffuse most online writing about Apple, the Mac, the iPod, and the people who buy and advocate them. I guess in some ways it’s easier to shortcut understanding of this kind of enthusiastic loyalty over a company and products that are, after all, American consumer goods, designed to be manufactured and sold at a profit, to the benefit of stockholders. It’s just a company, like Ford or BMW or Sony, right?

Well, yes and no. There doesn’t seem to be a single company out there that does as good and consistent a job of providing the opportunity to purchase a 21st century future in the form of hardware and software that, for the most part, just works…no muss or fuss. And it works in a cool way, in cool dress. Yes, the Consumer Electronics Show just concluded in Las Vegas has, taken together, more cool stuff from more cool places—but there’s a lot of crap in there, and it takes several dozen companies gathered together to generate the buzz that one fruit-named company can in one presentation.

And that presentation—the Steve Jobs keynote at the annual Macworld show, with what up until this year has been a live webcast of the product unveiling, has been a special day in the lives of Mac folk. Here, in a cascade of wonderment, was “the new this, and the upgraded that, and oh yeah, just one more thing–this doohickey here may well change your life.”

Ooh. Aah! And the 2005 version of that event happens today, at noon eastern time, in San Francisco. And the rumor websites have it that this year, well, boy oh boy, this year the thingies and doohickies and doodahs are going to be more spectacular and life-changing and ultimately cool than ever.

But this year, immediate gratification has been delayed by nine hours, to 9 pm eastern time. Rumors abound as to the reason for the delay, but it might be as simple as Steve doesn’t want to spend the money on the extra bandwidth a live webcast consumes, with the technological flakiness that might result. or, like David Letterman and unlike Bill Gates (who keynoted at CES), he’d like some hours in post to tighten up his performance and remove any flubs or blue screens of death. One guy (nicknamed ‘blueflame’) commented on MacRumors that the delay “sucks, i usually look foreward [sic] to this day more than christmas.”

Yes, well, perhaps that’s a symptom. It might not be a good thing to let today’s even become too special in your life. And don’t forget, the only gift Steve is giving us is the opportunity to hand over some cash in exchange for coolness. Hmm…where did I put that cash, anyway?

So gather ye collections of rumors and possibilities, and settle down…relax! …for what on the east coast will be an after-dinner treat.