Apple’s “Surprise” Revealed

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Those wondering why Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) online store was temporarily unavailable Thursday night got their answer Friday morning, and it wasn’t a new product or software update. Actually, anyone with a strong memory for dates might have guessed at the reason, given that Friday was the one-year anniversary of Apple founder Steve Jobs’s passing.

Go to Apple.com and you’ll be met with a tribute video focusing on his legacy, reminding viewers of the company’s many innovations, including the birth of the iMac, the iPod, and the iPhone.

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The video dominates the home page — normal menu items along the top (Store, Mac, iPod, etc.) are not available unless you notice the discreet X in the top left corner that allows you to exit the video. After the less-than-2-minute video concludes, a message from Tim Cook appears on the page in simple black text on a white background:

Steve’s passing one year ago today was a sad and difficult time for all of us. I hope that today everyone will reflect on his extraordinary life and the many ways he made the world a better place.

One of the greatest gifts Steve gave to the world is Apple. No company has ever inspired such creativity or set such high standards for itself. Our values originated from Steve and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple. We share the great privilege and responsibility of carrying his legacy into the future.

I’m incredibly proud of the work we are doing, delivering products that our customers love and dreaming up new ones that will delight them down the road. It’s a wonderful tribute to Steve’s memory and everything he stood for.

The company may have finally pulled off a surprise, and a touching tribute to the late Steve Jobs, but it certainly wasn’t what had been expected. Actually, no one really knew what to expect, given that the online store is usually only closed ahead of a major product launch, and Apple isn’t expected to launch the iPad Mini until later this month. But that didn’t prevent speculation.

Hopefully Apple enthusiasts won’t be too disappointed — after all, the video is a reminder of what all the company has given to the world, and comes just as the world has been focusing on the company’s missteps (iOS 6 maps, anyone?) rather than its triumphs.

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