There are few people, in business or otherwise, who could captivate an audience quite the way Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs could. One reason is that he knew his audience and could speak to them in a way that few people grasp with the same level of mastery.
Ever the showman, Jobs was uncanny in his ability to capture the attention of a room of people and deliver to them exactly the thing they couldn’t live without, even though they had no idea it was missing from their life. As he did, he frequently used three words that really defined Apple’s approach to introducing products, and are–still to this day–one of Steve Jobs’s most important contributions to the culture of the company he co-founded.
There is a long history of products Apple has introduced at the end of an event. Jobs would seem to be finishing his remarks before casually mentioned that “there is one more thing.” It’s how he introduced the Apple Cinema Display, the iMac G4 (which is widely considered the best desktop computer design ever), and the PowerBook G4.
It’s also how Apple brought us the MacBook Pro and the 2nd-generation MacBook Air, the laptop that has defined the ultra-book category for almost a decade.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that “one more thing,” is the most effective three-word product marketing phrase since “just do it.” Maybe even more so.
I’ll explain why in a moment, but first, on Tuesday Apple is holding an entire event called “One more thing,” which seems fitting considering it will be the third product event this fall. The previous events, in September and October, saw the introduction of the latest iPad Air, the Apple Watch Series 6, the HomePod Mini, and the iPhone 12.
It’s widely expected that this third event will see the introduction of Macs powered by Apple Silicon, something the company announced back in June. All of the products Apple announced are interesting, and the iPhone always draws the most attention, but Apple Silicon-powered Macs are easily the most consequential thing the company will introduce this fall.
That’s fitting since whenever Jobs would use “one more thing,” it was always the thing that the audience was most interested in, or that would delight them the most. The company has used the phrase sparingly since then, with Tim Cook only using it to preface the introduction of the Apple Watch, Apple Music, and the iPhone X.
Still, in every case, the phrase came at the point when it was reasonable to think Apple had already done everything you might have expected. I think it’s Jobs’s most enduring legacy at Apple. Here’s why:
One of the biggest reasons “one more thing” is so effective is because it plays on two of the most powerful emotions: surprise and delight. Many of the “one more thing” announcements were entirely new products that came–at least to some extent–as a surprise.
On the other hand, they also usually fulfilled something that people had hoped for–like the 12-inch PowerBook G4. It’s like waking up on Christmas morning, hoping for an Xbox, opening everything and not finding it, only to have dad bring out one more box with the best gift–the one more thing you’ve been waiting for.
In either case, anticipation and reward are a powerful combination, one that Jobs and Apple have used extremely effectively. That’s reflected still with this week’s event.
We’ve already had what would normally be a fall’s worth of new products from Apple, and yet, there’s something else the company has for its loyal fans. Not only is it something they’ve been anticipating, there’s also an element of surprise, since even if everyone’s assumption is correct that the company plans to announce laptops with Apple Silicon, no one knows exactly what that means.
Well, Apple knows. Tomorrow it will tell the rest of us about what will probably be its most important product this year in the most Steve Jobs way it could.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.