IN PICTURES: Apple's big teases through the ages

The 'iPhone 5' Apple special event will be the company's 20th in 10 years ago ... relive the best of Apple's teases and see which delivered on their implications

  • September 5, 2007 - Tagline: The beat goes on What we thought it meant: Sonny and Cher are finally coming to iTunes -- gods be praised. The payoff: A passel of new iPods, including the Touch, Nano, and "Classic". And that's about it. Tragically, the 1999 made-for-TV-biopic, "And the Beat Goes On: The Sonny and Cher Story," has not yet made it to the iTunes Store. Maybe next year.

  • September 12, 2006 - Tagline: It's showtime What we thought it meant: Apple has run out of ideas for special event invitations. Spotlights? Black and white? This is so boring, it could be from Microsoft. The payoff: New iPods, a new version of iTunes, and Apple TV (then called iTV), a video-streaming box that has yet to change anyone's life in any meaningful way. Which means it could also be from Microsoft.

  • October 12, 2005 - Tagline: One more thing ... What we thought it meant: Cue the striptease music, Steve's about to show us the full Monty. The payoff: No, this is not the first recorded instance of Steve Jobs using his now famous catch phrase (that would be at the 1999 Macworld Expo). But Apple did introduce the first video iPod, along with iTunes 6, and updated tower Macs and notebooks. Hardly seemed worth cleaning the curtains for that.

  • September 9, 2009 - Tagline: It's only rock and roll, but we like it. What we thought it meant: Dancing girl + banana peel = serious spinal injury. The payoff: Despite the magical mystery date of 09-09-09, this event did not feature the endlessly rumored arrival of the Beatles on the iTunes Music Store. (The Fab Four wouldn't make their iTunes debut until November 2010.) Instead we got a new round of iPod Shuffles, Touches, and Nanos. A more accurate tagline? Meet the new pods, same as the old pods.

  • October 4, 2011 - Tagline: Let's talk iPhone What we think it means: A date, a clock, and a map? A straightforward, utterly unambiguous subject line? Welcome to the Tim Cook era. The likely payoff: As always, Apple is as silent as a sphinx about its plans. But that didn't stop Al Gore from spilling the beans about the iPhone 5's ship date last week. And that was after yet another iPhone prototype went out to a bar for a quick one and never returned. At press time, it was still in an unknown location, sleeping one off. It's not like we don't already know an iPhone 5 is coming. What else does Apple have in store? That's for them to know and you to find out -- but not until tomorrow.

  • September 7, 2005 - Tagline: 1000 songs in your pocket changed everything. Here we go again. What we thought it meant: Apple plans to acquire Levi Strauss? Steve Jobs is the new Wrangler Jeans Man? The next iPod will come with rivets? Sadly, the answer is D) None of the above. The payoff: Apple introduced the iPod Nano, which could fit neatly into that back pocket. Also, the Motorola Rokr -- the first mobile phone to feature Apple iTunes, and one best left in your jeans pocket before being thrown into the wash.

  • January 27, 2010 - Tagline: Come see our latest creation What we thought it meant: Apple is getting into the paintball business, or this is what happens when Teletubbies are dropped from a great height. The payoff: Apple's wildest, most inscrutable invitation yet lead to special event devoted to just one product: the miraculous, life-changing iPad. Although this event may not have made history, as Steve Jobs proclaimed at its outset, it did turn the personal computing industry on its ear. We've been been swept up in tablet mania ever sinc

  • October 23, 2001 - Tagline: This coming Tuesday, Apple invites you to the unveiling of a breakthrough digital device. (Hint: it's not a Mac). What we thought it meant: Apple is resurrecting the Newton -- gods be praised. The first Apple special event invitation was printed on paper (remember paper?), placed in an envelope, and FedEx'd to the media. The tagline above is all the text that invitation contained. The payoff: The iPod 1.0 - the thing that started it all. And the gods wept ...

  • September 1, 2010 - Tagline: None What we thought it meant: Apple is hiring classical Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucia to play at its next event. The payoff: New versions of iOS 4.x, yet more Shuffles and Nanos, a new Apple TV, and iTunes 10 with the Ping social network. We're still trying to figure out what the guitar had to do with it.

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