From 1997 to 2002, Apple’s mythos was to “think different.” That slogan accompanied a commercial highlighting some of the 20th-century’s most significant figures, from Pablo Picasso to Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, Jim Henson, and Frank Lloyd Wright. At that point, the company was on the precipice of redefining the concept of technology in our daily lives. There was the IMac, the early iteration of the Apple Store, Apple’s operating system, the iPod, and the Apple TV and iPhone soon after. The foundation was built upon building things standing alongside the giants of art. In a stroke of irony, art and Apple products are almost opposites. Art is complex, differs from person to person, and takes time to formulate. A central pillar of what draws people to Apple products is the ease of use—you can take an iPhone right out of the box, and it’s ready to go with a few simple steps. Your parents don’t necessarily need a massive guide to use an iPad. It’s prepared to go as soon as you charge it. 

Apple has been coasting on its previous accomplishments (except for the Apple Watch and the Vision Pro) because every announcement has been an incremental addition to the products it already has in its tool belt. The iPhone might get a better camera lens and a slight bump in storage and speed, but the product is identical. What you’re paying for is the brand name, for the most part. Considering this, you might see the significantly negatively received commercial for the new iPad Pro from a different perspective. The overall angle and perception of big tech pushing artificial intelligence to the masses to remove the human element from creativity as if they think the T-1000 could make Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” on its own. But then you also realize it’s a metaphor for the company itself. Look at the draw of the iPad Pro: it is a new chip, the thinnest model ever, and has a better retina display. It’s great if you don’t already own one, but it might not be if you do. In the “Crush!” commercial, things like an acoustic guitar, a piano, a chess board, camera lenses, a poor plushy, and more intellectual and creative expression tools are crushed into a press and microwaved into this new product. 

The things that stick out to me more are the paint and spray bottles of color. In addition to needing more awareness of how consumers would receive this advertisement, destroying a tool that could be a change agent used to differentiate yourself feels like an own goal. It would point to people realizing the company hasn’t been able to do that in quite some time; instead, it elects to steady the course. Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl commercial inspired by George Orwell’s novel posited the Macintosh as the sledgehammer against homogenized devices. It set Apple in a position to forge a new path in how we compute and receive information. “Crush!” might be a reminder of big tech’s conquest to strip creativity to a bunch of prompts and equations. In addition to that, it indicates that Apple’s inventive years are behind it.

Main Photo Credit: Apple via YouTube