Here's Why Apple Always Sets the Time to 9:41 in Its iPhone and iPad Ads

Here's Why Apple Always Sets the Time to 9:41 in Its iPhone and iPad Ads
Image credit: apple.com

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From its iconic 1984 Super Bowl spot touting the first-ever Macintosh to the infamous dancing silhouettes that inaugurated the launch of the iPod, Apple’s advertising efforts have undergone eye-catching evolutions over the years -- though one thing has stayed the same.

In ads for its iPhones and iPads, users have noted that the time that the devices display has remained oddly consistent. In promotional images for its most recent line of iPhones, for instance, the time is always set to 9:41. Of course, given Apple’s unique flare for design and its perfectionistic streak, this is no happy accident.

Rather, reports The Atlantic, it serves to memorialize the precise minute during which the products are unveiled during the company’s keynotes.

Related: Former Apple CEO John Sculley: Steve Jobs Sold Experiences, Not Products

Former Apple software engineer Scott Forstall explained, “We design the product launch keynotes so that the big reveal of the product happens around 40 minutes into the presentation. When the big image of the product appears on screen, we want the time shown to be close to the actual time on the audience’s watches.”

But it wasn’t always 9:41 at Apple, Forstall said. Steve Jobs unveiled the very first iPhone at the Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco at 9:42 alongside slides reflecting that time. “We know we won’t hit 40 minutes exactly. And for the iPhone, we made it 42 minutes,” Forstall noted. “It turned out we were pretty accurate with that estimate, so for the iPad, we made it 41 minutes.” The 41-minute mark is still in effect today.

Though a relatively slight detail, The Atlantic notes that the time-stamp further links Apple’s creations to Jobs, adding to his evocative lore.

Related: IKEA Skewers Apple's High-Minded Marketing in Hilarious Viral Sketch

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