Craig Federighi, the new star of Apple.

Apart from the first images of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, the advance of functionalities and last-minute surprises such as Swift, the great protagonist of the keynote last Monday was, without a doubt, Craig Federighi. It is not the first time, far from it, that Apple’s senior vice president of software has taken the stage at a company presentation, but in the latter he has shown that he is increasingly in control of the situation, feeling really comfortable in his role as master of ceremonies. Even Tim Cook himself called him Superman for the time he was in charge of the keynote.

Apple has changed a lot since Steve Jobs was gone. We are not saying for better or worse. It’s just different. And that is also noticeable in the keynotes. We have gone from some presentations in which Jobs was on stage most of the time, to others in which the leading role is more distributed.

Craig Federighi, the new star of Apple

Presentations with Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was personally in charge of starting and finishing the keynote and, above all, presenting the most outstanding products. And he did it taking care of even the smallest detail, such as the time that appeared on the screen of the devices or that it was he who was holding the equipment in the first clear image facing the public. Everything seemed natural, spontaneous, but in reality there were many hours of rehearsal behind it, repeating the presentation over and over again until the desired effect was achieved.

With his disappearance, doubts arose, not only about the future of the company, but also about the format of the presentations. A less important aspect than the first but, taking into account that Apple increasingly limits its public exposures, it is still a way of gauging the state of the company at all times.

Craig Federighi, the new star of Apple

From the beginning it was clear that, in this sense, Tim Cook was not Steve Jobs. And, beware, he doesn’t have to be either. Each one has its own characteristics and strengths. In fact, if while Jobs was in charge of the company he saw in Cook an ideal complement (and the best substitute for him), it would be for a reason.

As we say, Cook’s forte is not presentations, although it is also true that he has improved a lot since the first one he had to direct. He is aware of this and reduces his presence on stage quite a bit, limiting himself to opening and closing the keynote (with two separate speeches, in which he is seen to be more and more loose) and making the transition between products. For example, last Monday he appeared among the announcements for OS X Yosemite and iOS 8.

Craig Federighi, the new star of Apple

Forstall had his moment

Cook lets his closest collaborators (let’s not forget, the company’s senior vice presidents) be in charge of presenting the products. And each one in charge of his specialty. For example, at first it was Scott Forstall who would go on stage to talk about iOS, but this ended with his dismissal in October 2012.

Forstall seemed destined to fill the role of Jobs, not so much as CEO of Apple (although there were those who hinted at it), but as the one in charge of carrying the weight of the presentations. Many times we tend to think that the CEO has to be a good manager and a good communicator, but Cook has shown that this does not have to be the case. He is dedicated to running (in my opinion, very well) the company. The brilliance of the presentations is left to others.

Craig Federighi, the new star of Apple

And then Federighi arrived

The fact is that after Forstall’s departure, doubts about the keynotes arose again. The leading role was blurred again, with the presence on stage of Cook himself, Eddy Cue, Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi. Jonathan Ive (clearly the big winner in the infighting within the company that got Forstall fired) has never wanted much of a live role, and his appearances are limited to the already famous product presentation videos that are part of the hallmark of Apple.

As we say, Federighi was one of those called to appear in the presentations. And, the truth is, he is seen more and more freely on stage, joking (although always within the script), knowing perfectly what to do at all times and even getting out of situations in which he gets slightly stuck.

Presentations continue to be rehearsed to the max. For example, when Federighi called Dr. Dre last Monday, he had a script with what he had to say at each moment. But even in that he shows ease.

Craig Federighi, the new star of Apple

But who is Craig Federighi?

Federighi is responsible for software engineering within Apple and, therefore, oversees the development of both iOS and OS X. One of the lines marked by Cook after the reorganization of Apple’s board of directors in 2012 was to work together, with a common goal, but also with similar concepts in terms of design and functionality, something that with Forstall (who kept iOS development isolated from the rest) was impossible.

It is taken for granted that the relationship between Federighi and Ive, another of Apple’s strongmen, is good. Craig is in charge of the development and Ive is in charge of defining the interfaces of the systems and applications, with the intention that they are recognizable and identifiable by the user, but at the same time easy to use. His work, as we see, is closely linked. It even leads to jokes like this one:

Humor is precisely one of the constants in the latest Apple keynotes. Jobs also had his moments (some unforgettable), but the new Apple has taken a couple of presentations to recover the good humor. Now it seems that they even enjoy themselves on stage. And the greatest exponent of this way of being is Federighi, with stellar performances such as the one in which he competed in a car racing game against an opponent disguised as a driver or the one in which his nickname appeared in Game Center: “Hair Force One” (referring to his famous toupee).

Craig Federighi, the new star of Apple

Federighi worked at NeXT, the company founded by Jobs after his departure from Apple. After a brief stint at Apple, he left for Ariba (computer services company) where he spent 10 years and then returned to Apple. It was 2009.

He was initially responsible for the development of Mac OS X. In 2011 he was named Vice President of Software Engineering for OS X and in 2012 he became Senior Vice President. With Forstall’s departure he also took over the iOS part.

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