By Nathan Rohler
That title might sound a little shocking, but the subtle warning signs are the ones we usually miss.
While I don’t think any of us here at DWUser would consider ourselves to be Apple fanboys/girls, we use Apple products because we simply believe them to be superior for our needs. Everybody’s needs are different, but when we’re doing tasks such as designing and developing, our Mac Pros and MacBooks are indispensable tools of the trade. I love my Apple stuff.
As such, I keep an interested eye on the corporate juggernaut that Apple has become in my day. Seriously, who can’t admire the brilliance and determination of a visionary like Steve Jobs? I think every entrepreneur-at-heart secretly wishes they could be the Steve Jobs of the next Apple.
No offense to Tim Cook, but I can’t say the same about him.
Apple’s brand-new iPhone 5 ad campaign, honestly, scares me to death for the future of the company – and technological innovation in general. Let’s look at what I’m talking about:
Yeah, beautiful commercial, right? Note the message at the end:
Every day, more photos are taken with the iPhone than any other camera.
And check out this homepage feature on Apple.com:
(I haven’t seen any print ads yet, but most Apple ad pushes span all media…)
OK. That’s what we have today. Let’s look back 10 or 15 years. Here’s what Apple was all about:
When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.
That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is – everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.
The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.
[Source; emphasis added]
You feelin’ the contrast yet? “Think Different” vs. “everybody else is doing it.” The intoxicating power of a idealistic new idea vs. peer pressure. Seriously, Steve must be rolling over in his grave about this new ad campaign.
The entire Apple identity was built around a philosophy of dissatisfaction and insurgency, a drive toward a yet-to-be-reached perfection. Are we really to believe that the year 2013 and the iPhone 5 mark the arrival at that long-sought perfection? (Apple itself is going to tell us otherwise when the iPhone 5S or 6 or whatever comes out!)
People have enjoyed using Apple products partially because it was “cool” to be different, to stand out, to be part of an enlightened minority of cutting-edge innovators. It didn’t matter that there wasn’t any true innovation in the act of pulling out your credit card to buy the iWhatever device; it felt like you were somehow innovating by your association with the brand.
Today, we’re being told that we should all get iPhones so we can fit in — and be bland, tasteless, colorless members of a homogeneous society where Apple is dominant, not insurgent. To me, it feels like the only thing missing at the end is a Microsoft logo. I don’t know where this idea came from; maybe it was some rogue ad agent. But the fact that this MAJOR campaign ever saw the light of day should be setting off Titanic-style alarm bells at One Infinite Loop.
I don’t own Apple stock, so it isn’t any skin off my nose if Apple plateaus financially and joins the wax museum of other stagnant megacorps. That’s not my concern. My concern is that the innovation and groundbreaking Apple that I have come to know, and love really, died with Steve Jobs. And that’s just sad, when I consider the way in which Apple products have changed and improved the way I work and live. The human race isn’t lost or anything; it just means we’ll have to put up with a lot of mundane technology before a new standard bearer for innovation will come forward and challenge the status quo with impunity.
I’m an optimist, though, and still hold out hope that Apple will return to it’s innovative ethos before it’s too late.
That’s my take. Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill, or is this ad campaign an evidence of something serious? Let me know in the comments below.
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