An interesting controversy started two days ago when the latest Apple ad promoting their new iPad model raised hell from... pretty much everyone. The video is the kind of high production value we're accustomed to with Apple, and it shows a huge hydraulic press crunching together musical instruments, records, books, footballs, and adorable plushies into what becomes the new iPad.

The obvious marketing message: "We compress everything you need in this new ever-thinner form factor."

Social media went ballistic, crying that Apple would destroy beautiful creative tools and the “symbols of human creativity and cultural achievements," up to Hugh Grant (famous tech expert – not) seeing in all this “the destruction of the human experience courtesy of Silicon Valley.”

OK, so what went wrong?

Most commentators are discussing how Apple missed the mark or didn't read the room and that this ad is a clumsy illustration of what the company will do with AI; also, and this is a good one, how this is far from the iconic 1981 ad where Apple was liberating grey slaves from the tyranny of IBM and Microsoft.

Analysts make this a marketing problem.

My opinion? It's anything but.

It's a strategic problem morphing into a shift in brand value. Like Tesla, Apple is now an old company selling mainstream products to consumers. They're not the young upstart fighting 'the man' anymore. They are the man, and it starts to show more and more.

This is Apple today; this will be another one of the GAFAM later, which is certainly obvious. But in 2024, it's also Netflix which is essentially in the same strategic spot as cable TV in the nineties, or Airbnb, which is like an old-school hospitality business like Marriott. Although our perception of these companies is lagging, they are all the new incumbents ready to be disrupted.

If in doubt, consider how just a few big tech companies are leading investment in AI startups, far beyond what private VC firms are currently doing...

Think what you want, but I smell despair and a clear existential crisis brewing here... and this was already rather obvious back in 2023.

Side note: It's kind of funny that, as of late January, I was writing about how Apple was already the man for me 40 years ago!

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