Before there was an iPod or an iPhone, and even before Microsoft had Windows 95, there was the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. In those early years, I was a regular attendee at the WWDC. I was extremely fortunate to make great connections with many Apple employees and other Macintosh developers. I also established very close ties with the event organizers. Instead of sitting in one of the thousands of tightly packed stackable chairs in the main hall, where I would never see the slide shows, the WWDC team kindly offered me a backstage comfy chair, monitor and sound system. I was accidentally treated like a VIP for years. In that private setting, I got to meet much of Apple's leadership and all of the keynote speakers.
One year, during a short recess between presentations, I quickly tapped my way to the men's room for a brief break. I then promptly returned to the backstage area, and scurried around the heavy curtains. A security guard blocked my entrance.
"You can't come back here," she commanded.
"It's OK. I have a reserved seat."
She didn't budge. "I'm sorry sir, but this is a secured area."
"My name is Morgan Watkins," I said with ebbing confidence. "Please check with the conference coordinators and they'll clear me."
At this, her whole attitude changed. "I'm sorry Mr. Watkins. We were expecting you. Just a moment, there is someone sitting in your seat."
She approached the fellow who had taken my chair. "Sir, you are sitting in Mr. Watkins' seat. You are going to have to move."
"You don't understand," replied the polite gentleman. "My name is Bill Gates."
The guard was unimpressed. "I'm sorry sir. I don't care who you are. You'll have to move."
I had no idea what I should do. Now, I could have said, "Oh Mr. Gates, I'm so terribly sorry. I didn't realize it was you. Please keep my chair, as a gift." I could have fallen flat on the floor and declared myself unworthy. Or, I could have shown a little dignity and gone back to the men's room and taken a seat there.
But, I didn't move. No words escaped my lips. After all, what were the protocols for relocating a billionaire? Was it wise? Without comment, Bill Gates graciously stood up and I heard someone flip open a metal folding chair. Bill Gates then reseated himself behind where I had been sitting.
When I quietly reclaimed my comfy chair, I experienced something completely unexpected. The seat was warm, very warm. My first thought was that it must have been his wallet burning a hole in his pocket. Amazing. Physics in action. Who'd have thought?
Although my wallet is considerably thinner than those of most corporate executives, it is still prone to overheating. I believe that unused cash is a fire hazard. It should be put to work. I protect myself from sudden conflagration by purchasing toys. I'm just being careful. For years, my favorite goodies have been iPhones, headphones and Bluetooth keyboards. Although I am not one of those who will buy a new iPhone every year, I start daydreaming about future models as soon as my AppleCare policy runs out.
My current device is the iPhone 8. I did not consider the iPhone X models even though they launched at the same time. I liked the iPhone 8 for its price, size and Touch ID. I still like it. Even so, I have been fascinated by the new iPhone X models with their lack of a Home button, uninterrupted glass and Face ID. I recently began to ponder an upgrade to the new iPhone 11.
Unfortunately, as we approached the 2019 launch of new iPhones, every prognosticator of tech futures seemed to believe that 2020, not 2019, was going to be the really big and super-duper iPhone year. 2019 started to sound like the year of the "Ho Hum." Tell me it isn't so. Each article I opened suggested that 2020 would introduce the first 5G iPhone. And, purported insiders predicted both Face ID and Touch ID would work in tandem in the 2020 offerings. I would be very interested in a new iPhone for those features alone. Was this the best year to make a change?
However, I still wanted the iPhone 11 to tempt me. The geek inside was so hungry. I had heard about possible new ways of tracking personal belongings on an iPhone 11 with new electronic Apple tags in conjunction with the new U1 location chip, but that novel idea was not addressed in the Apple presentation. I had also heard that the 2019 iPhone 11 might introduce reverse wireless charging that could resuscitate drained AirPods and an Apple Watch, by laying the weakened accessories on the back of the iPhone 11, as the noble device sacrificed its own power for the greater good. I might even use that feature once in a while. So, was this announced on September 10? Nope. To be fair, I did hear about the extraordinary new displays, some great visual arcade games and the nearly supernatural cameras, but I am a happy blind guy and don't care much about those extras.
What if I did purchase an iPhone 11 without some really compelling new technologies? Granted, it would be faster than my current iPhone, but I really do covet some of the items on the 2020 wish list. I would likely spend the year kicking myself knowing that by buying now, I would not be buying then. It takes time for my wallet to heat up sufficiently. Ugh. However, if I wait and my expectations are not met next year, my wallet will surely set my back pocket ablaze.
Fortunately, during the September 10 announcement, Apple said that they would continue to sell the iPhone 8. Good. What they continue to sell, they will continue to support. And, my old iPhone 8 has been doing a great job.
Maybe I can survive with my current iPhone for one more year. With the support of my family and friends, with an intervention or two, I think I can wait. Maybe. Hopefully. One day at a time. That's the ticket.
Time to put my wallet in the freezer. I'll just buy the next iPhone with cold cash.
The conversation detailed above was real, and comes from notes I created minutes after it happened. No names were changed to protect the innocent.
During the early years at WWDC, I enjoyed watching history unfold -- witnessing the evolution of the relatively new Macintosh computers, as well as the slowly retiring Apple IIs. I was there when Agnes and Victoria, two early Apple voices, began to speak. Access became more important. Talk2Me, my own very simple verbal interface for the Mac, was made possible because people at Apple cared. They still do.
I have written 22 other blogs for AppleVis, including "Say What? : Hearing Aids, iPhones and My Apple Watch," "Off My Chest: Confessions Of An Apple Watch Lover" and "Down To Earth: My First Hundred Days With AirPods."
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