Liberal Arts Are Still Alive and Well At Apple

While I’m waiting for OS X Mavericks to download on this machine (I’m not sure I’m doing a clean install this time, even if I did write and test a guide to do just that), I figured I’d respond to Ben Thompson’s critique of Apple’s iPad Air event from Tuesday.

Commenting on the new iPad Air ad, Thompson writes:

There are no stories, and there are no humans. It’s clever yet abstract, remarking upon what has happened, without a vision for what is now possible. That’s the thing about stories: the best storytellers – like Jobs – are so compelling because they have vision. They see what we don’t see, and they can’t be more excited to tell us about just that.

And then he concludes:

Does Apple still have vision? Yesterday’s presentation did not, and I wonder just how costly last year’s departure might have been.

To this I have just one response. It’s the best Apple commercial in years – maybe of the decade:

And it debuted in April 2013. This advertisement – which is virtually perfect in every single way, is all about story. It is the absolute personification of story and emotion.

I don’t like the “Music Every Day” and “FaceTime Every Day” ads as much, but that’s mostly because I don’t think you can capture the same essence more than once. (Well, that and I think the piano piece used for “Photos Every Day” is just stunning.)

So are we really going to say that liberal arts are gone from Apple because of an ad designed to show off the amazing industrial design of the iPad Air? Let’s be serious.

Look, I’m not going to argue with the central thesis that Apple is a different company today. Like Gruber, I’ll absolutely concede that Apple is different and it shows.

But I vehemently disagree that Apple has abandoned the liberal arts.


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