Keynote

Why Steve Jobs' keynotes matter

May 31, 2011: 10:49 AM ET

They are the reason Apple's shares leaped out of the box at the opening bell Tuesday.

Jobs at Macworld 2007

The key words in the press release Apple (AAPL) issued Tuesday morning were not OS X Lion, iOS 5, or iCloud -- the three components of what the company is billing as the "next generation software."

As important as the operating systems and services to be unveiled next week at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference may be, they had already been telegraphed to investors and baked into Apple's share price. In fact, one of the reasons given for the stock's lackluster performance lately had been that these software advances -- and not a new iPhone -- were all that Apple was planning to showcase at WWDC.

No, the four words that set the Street's hardened hearts aflutter -- and Apple's share price soaring nearly 2% in early morning trading -- were "Steve Jobs" and "keynote address." [The stock closed at $347.83, up $10.42 (3.09%) for the day.]

The news here is that Jobs, who is on medical leave, is well enough to give the keynote and that he feels what Apple is introducing is important enough to be given the Steve Jobs imprimatur.

What makes a Jobsian keynote different from any other presentation by any other CEO?

It helps that he generally delivers the goods in terms of new products with real impact. But he also works hard to deliver them with some drama and flair. Insiders say he prepares his product introductions as if they were Broadway shows. The format is deceptively simple: a setup, a twist, and a big reveal. It's actually surprising that no other high-tech luminary seems to have mastered the form.

To give you a feel for what's involved, check out the first 4:47 minutes of one of Jobs' signature performances: the January 2007 Macworld keynote at which he introduced the iPhone.

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