Have You Ever Noticed That Apple Ads Show the Time as 9:41? Here’s Why

This is the fascinating, real-life reason it's always 9:41 a.m. in Apple advertisements

Let’s be honest: There is very little that us eagle-eyed Apple users haven’t uncovered about our iPhones, iPads and MacBooks. From tech tips and iPhone hacks to the best time to buy Apple products, we’d like to believe we know a thing or two (or 20!) about the devices that dominate our lives. But you might be surprised to learn another mind-blowing secret that Apple employees won’t tell you: In virtually every Apple advertisement, the clock on the device’s screen always seems to read 9:41 a.m. What gives?!

It may seem arbitrary, but it turns out there’s a very charming secret behind this quirky little tradition. Ready to uncover the real story for yourself? Read on, because we’ve donned our investigative hats—and enlisted the help of an Apple expert—to get the scoop on this and other interesting facts about your favorite Apple products.

Get Reader’s Digest’s Read Up newsletter for tech, humor, cleaning, travel and fun facts all week long.

Why do Apple ads use 9:41 as the time on their products?

The story behind this magical number begins in January 2007, when Apple founder Steve Jobs announced the original iPhone. He designed his keynote speech so that when he revealed the iPhone about 40 minutes into the presentation, which started at 9 a.m., its clock would reflect the actual time—originally 9:42, and then, after he honed the speech even more, 9:41.

And the rest is history. Apple’s developers have announced new iOS devices and products the same way ever since. And as a nod to this unusual tradition, the time is also set to 9:41 in virtually every piece of marketing material for iPhones, iPads and more, according to Chris Capelle, an Apple products expert.

Skeptical? You can check it out for yourself. On Apple’s website, all the ads for the new iPhone 15 display 9:41 as the time. The same goes for every version of the new iPad and MacBook.

Which ads have this 9:41 branding?

Advertisements that feature the 9:41 branding are “centered around the release of new models, which typically is in late summer or early fall,” Capelle says. While earlier ads might have showed 9:42 as the time, which reflected Jobs’s first attempts, every marketing photo since the 2007 announcement have included a tribute to 9:41, according to Capelle.

In fact, some of the most famous and memorable Apple product announcements of all time showcase the 9:41 a.m. branding. Remember when the iPad was first unveiled in 2010? The tablet’s screen read 9:41 a.m. That same year, Apple revealed that it had added a video call feature on its iPhones—what we know now as FaceTime—and images showed the time as (you guessed it!) 9:41.

Are there any exceptions to the rule?

Apple Watches, apparently! Turns out, these devices are always photographed with the time set to 10:09 a.m. instead. This follows a common practice in watch advertising, which is to show the hour hand pointing slightly past the number 10 and the minute hand aimed right before the number 2. Why, you ask? It’s not just another Apple Watch feature. Experts say this arrangement is simply for aesthetics, creating a shape that brings attention to the watch company’s logo or any other graphic located underneath the number 12.

Other Apple facts you probably don’t know

Now that you’re filled in on this fascinating factoid, Capelle shared more Apple-related lore that might surprise you.

  • Sir Isaac Newton was the inspiration behind Apple’s first logo in 1976, which featured the English mathematician sitting underneath an apple tree. Eventually, the company simplified the logo to the legendary half-eaten apple icon.
  • In 2015, after the launch of the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, Apple sold a record-breaking 13 million iPhones in the device’s first weekend on the market.
  • You know the two Steves—Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak—two of Apple’s original founders. But did you know there was also a third founder named Ronald Wayne? Wayne is lesser known because he cashed in on his share of the company just 12 days after its founding in 1976, earning $800 or the equivalent of $4,316 in 2023.
  • Apple is currently valued at $2.73 trillion, which is more than the entire economies of many countries.
  • If you had invested $1,000 in Apple in 1980, you would have around $1.26 million today.
  • Apple, Inc. has been sued multiple times by the Beatles (whose multimedia corporation is named Apple Corps Limited) for trademark infringement. In response, Apple named its iconic alert sound “Sosumi,” which sounds like “so sue me,” a not-so-subtle reference to the lawsuits.
  • Apple’s first computer cost $9,995 in 1983, which is worth almost $30,000 in 2023. In 2018, a model of this same computer sold for $31,250 at auction.

About the expert

  • Chris Capelle is an Apple expert with more than 30 years of experience. He specializes in hands-on tech support for Macs and other Apple products.

Brooke Nelson
Brooke Nelson is a tech and consumer products writer covering the latest in digital trends, product reviews, security and privacy, and other news and features for RD.com.