Remember 1984? No, not the book. The Apple television commercial. ‘1984‘ is considered one of the all time great commercials; a masterpiece. Here’s how it goes:
The commercial opens with a dystopic, industrial setting in blue and gray tones, showing a line of people (of ambiguous gender) marching in unison through a long tunnel monitored by a string of telescreens. This is in sharp contrast to the full-color shots of the nameless runner (Anya Major). She looks like an Olympic track and field athlete, as she is carrying a large brass-headed hammer and is wearing an athletic “uniform” (bright orange athletic shorts, running shoes, a white tank top with a cubist picture of Apple’s Macintosh computer, a white sweat band on her left wrist, and a red one on her right).
In the commercial, mankind is being ruled by an autocratic entity that controls every aspect of a dull, boring, monotonous life. As the heroine rushes the screen, guards at her heels, Big Brother speaks onscreen to the masses.
Today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology – where each worker may bloom, secure from the pests purveying contradictory truths. Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death, and we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!
That’s creepy in oh so many ways. Yes, the heroine smashes the screen with her hammer, presumably freeing those of ambiguous gender whose minds were controlled by Big Brother (IBM?).
Yes. It’s 28 years since ‘1984’ and much has changed. IBM, the Big Brother in the commercial, was supplanted by Microsoft and the Windows hegemony. It would appear that Apple’s persistence under Steve Jobs guidance finally brought down the once mighty Microsoft.
After all, the world is increasingly a mobile world, and Microsoft is mired in the past of desktops and notebooks, and has but an insignificant percentage of mobile devices. Apple rules. Apple has become Big Brother.
Call it what you will, but Apple’s walled garden approach doesn’t appear much different than that imposed upon businesses in IBM’s heyday, and replicated by Microsoft the past 20 years.
Apple, like all companies that rise to the top of their game, wants to control it all. Google wouldn’t keep Google Maps on iOS on a feature parity level with Google Maps on Android devices, so Apple dumped Google and built their own. That’s only one example. Apple has customized ARM chips to provide better performance than smartphones with similar CPUs.
No platform used by the masses is more controlled than Apple’s iOS. As it was with IBM, then Microsoft, Apple has reaped riches by managing as much of the customer experience as possible. Why? So customers will stay with Apple, and new customers will buy Apple products, and customers who use other products will switch to Apple’s continually improved and safely walled garden.
How does Apple’s behavior differ from IBM and Microsoft of generations past?