Why The Time Is Always Set To 9:41 on Apple Ads

There’s a reason for everything at Apple. And that even includes the time displayed on the devices in promotional materials.

It even extends to print ads and television commercials.

Original iPhone displaying 9:42am
Original iPhone displaying 9:42am

That time used to be 9:42. You could see it across various commercials, print ads, and even on Apple’s website. The explanation was simple: That’s the time in the morning that Steve Jobs announced the very first iPhone in 2007. Around 42 minutes into his keynote address, he said, “Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone.”

And a picture of the iPhone, displaying the time 9:42, popped up on the screen behind him.

But that all changed in 2010, when the very first iPad was released. When that was revealed, it displayed a different time: 9:41.

But why did the time change? It’s all very simple, according to former iOS chief Scott Forstall, who happened to divulge the secret to Australian-based app developer Jon Manning of Secret Lab.

We design the keynotes so that the big reveal of the product happens around 40 minutes into the presentation,” Forstall said. “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 we know we won’t hit 40 minutes exactly.

— Scott Forstall

You can see the time displayed on all promotional images from Apple.

iPhone 6 displaying 9:41am
iPhone 6 displaying 9:41am
Mac OS Sierra promotional image displaying 9:41am
Mac OS Sierra promotional image displaying 9:41am

“And there you are — the secret of the magic time,” Forstall told Manning. 

Apple’s iPhone 7 event will only start at 10:00am, 7:00pm South African time. Therefor Apple should announce the iPhone 7 at 7:41pm South African time.