On April 30th, Comedian Ellen Degeneres will attempt to mock the iPhone. On May 4th, She will apologize.
Click Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QOfkl4W5HA to view the video. Sorry, I can’t embed it.
There are so many layers of irony in this three minute clip. As I watched, I wondered, “Is this for real?” And when I realized it WAS real, all of the memories of Apple’s marketing campaign rushed to focus in my head. Let me explain.
The problem with Ellen’s spoof commercial is that it portrayed the iPhone in a manner that was difficult to use and even (gasp) unintuitive. Naturally, Apple didn’t take too kindly to this portrayal, so a few calls from Apple later and Ellen publicly apologizes to Apple all-the-while praising them and reassuring the public she owns everything Apple.
To get you, the reader, in the same mindset as me. Follow me on a journey, back to 1983:
What do you take away from this commercial? If you’re like me, you see that Apple has made a clear distinction between Apple and IBM. IBM or “Big Blue” or further “Big Brother” is trying to control you. Apple is a bra-less Amazon with a sledge hammer coming to free you from Big Brother’s shackles. Very noble indeed. Now let us take a look at 1985:
Now Apple is comparing the people who work with IBM office equipment as lobotomized lemmings. Aimlessly walking, even to their death because they don’t know any better. Apple will show the world a new way of working with Macintosh Office. Let’s Fast forward to 1993:
“What’s on your PowerBook.. is You.” Again, Apple wants to let us know that Apple products are about facilitating you being unique. The PowerBook is here to help you be as independent as you’ve always wanted to be. You’re going to run a business and be successful. Empowering You. I like it. This ad speaks to me on many levels. I long for the ability to control my own destiny. I very much want that. Let’s go further into the future when Steve Jobs gets his job back, 1996:
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. the one’s who see things differently, they’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo…” Very inspiring commercial. I find all of these qualities admirable. Something that should be looked up to. This is what Apple can sell to you. The ability to work outside the box. To not be influenced by conformist pattern. Maybe…maybe Apple is here to help you think different. You’re going to need it, because the crash-prone Mac OS 8 & OS 9 are going to be your best friends for the next 5 years. So maybe it’s time to “switch” with OS X:
So now it’s 2001 and Apple finally figured out the only way they would have a stable operating system is if they threw away what they had and instead used something that worked. FreeBSD and it’s UNIX core as the foundation to Mac OSX. Now that they finally have some ammunition, they take aim at their biggest threat, Microsoft. The switch campaign was created to hurl salvos of salvation to frustrated Windows Users. And they did this with a Reality TV spin, in that you are to believe that these are real people telling you an anecdote. They always ended it with their name, so each ad was personalized and unique. This time however, Microsoft isn’t big brother. No, they are the clunky jalopy that you have to use because nothing better exists. At the time these Ads aired, I was a big Windows user and I was comfortable in the Windows environment. What Apple is selling now is an intuitive and seamless computing experience. One that isn’t plagued with the nonsense Windows users put up with daily. Now let’s go to 2006:
So now it’s 2006 and Windows Vista just came out. It’s getting publicly trashed. Apple rightfully attacks as hard as they can to make it known that if you want an amazing, awesome, incredible, intuitive, beautiful, unbelievable, easy, really nice, magical computing experience, you’re only hope is Apple.
So ALL the way up to 2006 Apple has been selling you the same idea. Apple is the rebel underdog that’s actually better than the competition and they will help you be a unique individual and protect you from Big Brother.
And then June 2007 happens. Apple releases the iPhone. In the beginning, in was barely a smart phone. If you wanted to run applications, you’d have to run them in a browser. There was no multitasking, it didn’t help facilitate your productive life. The only thing it did, and did WELL, was it’s new multi-touch screen. For all intents and purposes, this was a toy phone Apple had just unveiled.
And in 2008, Apple would debut the App Store. Opening up the iPhone and single-handedly changing the mobile space. Initial applications on the iPhone sold excellently and Apple had a great model for developers. Now developers saw $$$ in their future and quickly and feverishly thousands of developers tried creating the next big thing on the iPhone with dreams of retiring young. Sadly this wasn’t the case for everyone, but quite a few managed to secure their piece of the pie. Meanwhile, all this did was fuel Apple’s strength in the mobile world. Instantly having the most amount of software on their platform than all other competitors multiple times over!
Now that the iPhone series is a huge success, people start to ask questions. Where is the multi-tasking? Why no Flash? Why can’t I change the battery? Why aren’t I allowed to manage files? Why aren’t I allowed more control from my device? There is no option allowed by Apple. They know what’s best for you. They love you and are trying to protect you.
This is the point when I decided Apple products weren’t for me. So what if Apple cracks jokes at the Windows guy. When I made the switch, I thought it was to have more options available to me and the freedom to do what I wanted with those options. When they said to “think different”, I now know they only wanted me to think their way. When they said, “what’s in your powerbook… is you”, What Apple really means is, “What’s in your iPhone… is ours.”
And when Steve Jobs said, “Was George Orwell “right” about 1984?” at the 1983 Apple Keynote address… I think about Ellen Degeneres making a joke about the iPhone. And then apologizing for it.
So I think now I can faithfully answer Steve Jobs question he posed back in 1983. The answer is, No. George Orwell was wrong.. by about 26 years. He should have named the book ‘2010’. Maybe Orwell thought that sounded Cliché.