SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Apple Inc. kicked off its annual Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday in San Francisco, but despite unveiling some new products and a redesigned iOS (announcements that don't usually happen at this event), attendees confessed feeling underwhelmed. Many people said the keynote speech lacked substance, missed the standard "one more thing" surprise, and failed to deliver innovations targeted toward the community of developers. Some challenged that notion, but had only the death of Steve Jobs, Apple's founder and visionary, as an excuse. Attendees agreed the biggest problem was current CEO Tim Cook's "pathetic" whining about having no real direction anymore and his sad theatrics to convince developers that he was really Jobs incarnate, which included wearing Jobs' iconic black turtleneck and desperately staging a seance to plead with Jobs' spirit for help.
Many developers complained that Apple did not address ongoing problems, specifically citing Apple TV's SDK, where the integration between apps remains a missing link. Others found the changes to iOS 7 disappointing and largely cosmetic. And for a company that surged from the shadows by popularizing portable smart devices, Apple's ostensible return to manufacturing PCs impressed developers as "running back home with its tail between its legs."
"This year was just new skin, new styling, but features compared to Google's Android operating system are really disappointing. … It's just a combination of features from other operating systems, especially the multitasking," one product manager in attendance tweeted after the conference.
Anticipated news about the launch of next generation iPhones and iPads was not forthcoming, further worrying analysts that Apple cannot flourish in a world without Steve Jobs.
The concerns were manifest in Apple's tanking stock price, which dropped again this week to $427 a share from a recent high of $460. The company has yet to fully recover from the 45-percent plummet in April, which drove shares down to a meager $385 after a historic apex of $705 in September 2012.
On stage, these impacts were visible in Cook's speech.
"As many of you know, our company is struggling financially. And it's not the first time. We've weathered similar storms in our past," Cook said, tears welling in his eyes and his voice cracking at times.
"But without Steve's guidance, I'm just not sure where we go from here as a company. Like you, I have a family to support. This is my job. It pays the bills. But with our near poverty level profits and this uncertain economy and the IRS all up our butts, I worry about putting food on the table. I lose sleep at night wondering if I'll make next month's mortgage payment. Prices for estates in the Bay Area aren't as reasonable as they once were. I may have to close the stables and lay off a lot of my house staff. We can probably do without the domestics, but that's just contributing to this country's nasty unemployment problem. I'm sure you can understand. And that's why I'm counting on your unflinching fanboy loyalty to continue buying our products so that my kids have the future they deserve. Just as our products ensure that your kids have their futures."
At that point, Cook rolled out the new iMac Pro tower, a cylindrical black machine that many have compared to Darth Vader's helmet in appearance.
When asked what made the device, slated for release later this year, different apart from its looks, Cook said: "There's some hardware to make it faster. Basically, we're using enhanced PCI cards to make it faster, which isn't really a new concept. And it'll probably cost a lot more. Like $4,000. And it looks super cool. Isn't that why people buy Apples anyway?"
Questioned about the advances in the operating system, the troubled CEO hung his head and echoed a line from "Tron: Legacy": "We've added a 7 to the name."
But waning confidence from developers and investors was truly sparked by Cook's bizarre stage theatrics.
Cook had thinned his hair, donned round spectacles, and paced uncomfortably on stage while tugging at the collar of a black turtleneck sweater that seemed too tight for his comfort.
At one point, after a fit of tugging and scratching at the symbolic garment, Cook wept into the microphone: "Isn't this what you all came to see? I'm trying to fill His shoes for you. I'm trying to be Him. Isn't this enough? Steve, why have you forsaken me?!"
He then astounded the audience by bringing a medium on stage, crystal ball and everything, to contact the spirit of Steve Jobs.
"It was too weird and sad for me," one conference goer noted. "This Eastern European woman sat at her little table, all covered in stars and runes and crap, and chanted into her crystal ball. Tim Cook and the other c-level executives sat holding hands and crying. Then the lights in the hall dimmed and they asked us to do the same."
For three hours, Cook begged and pleaded with the netherworld to dredge up Jobs' departed soul for guidance and advice. But nothing happened. Jobs did not materialize. Cook left immediately after, dejected and wordless.
Insiders at the company say Cook has also contemplated finding doctors who would be willing to give him terminal cancer in one last ditch attempt to mirror Steve Jobs.
"It's sort of like that movie 'Boys from Brazil,'" one Apple insider explained. "In that film, former Nazis attempt to raise children under the same circumstances as Hitler, hoping to conceptually clone them into a new Fuhrer. My guess is that Cook is doing the same thing to himself, trying to become Steve Jobs. Doesn't seem like it will end well, though."
2013. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. See disclaimers.