People sure are pressed about Apple’s crushing iPad commercial

By Alex Cranz, deputy editor and co-host of The Vergecast. She oversaw consumer tech coverage at Gizmodo for five years. Her work has also appeared in the WSJ and Wired.
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Credit where it’s due: the commercial for the new iPad Pro is impeccable. In the commercial, a hydraulic press, like the kind that crushes Skittles all day on TikTok, slowly descends onto a whole amalgamation of artistic endeavors. As the large metal plate drops like Tesla’s stock in 2024, it crushes musical instruments and destroys classical sculptures. Tubes of paint pop like balloons sending a cascade of color across Apple’s carefully constructed canvas of stuff. Finally, it accomplishes its job. This gathering of creations meant to represent the whole history of human creativity is laid flat by the unstoppable force of Apple’s hydraulic press.
And then, as the press slowly rises, all of that artsy mess disappears. What is left behind is Apple’s new, beautifully sleek iPad Pro.
I remember watching it during Apple’s livestream and thinking, “That’s very pretty,” and also, “Oh, this was not the right time for this commercial.” Which must have been prescient on my part because now a whole lot of people — primarily in the artistic community — are furious about the commercial. Hugh Grant called the commercial the “destruction of human experience” on X.
Apple’s intent is plain: everything you could do with all this stuff can now be done with a single iPad. Isn’t technology remarkable? That’s a tactic that has worked very well for Apple’s advertisers in the past, and they’ve touched on this concept before — particularly in early iPod and iPhone commercials.
But the last time Apple used this shtick, writers and actors in Hollywood hadn’t spent half a year campaigning to protect their jobs from AI. Game studios hadn’t laid off thousands. AI musicians hadn’t proliferated on YouTube and TikTok to the fury of the record labels and artists, and the Tupac Shakur estate hadn’t issued its first AI rap beef cease and desist order. The last time Apple did this, people weren’t talking quite as urgently about AI automation snapping up all the jobs humans once held.
The conversation on computers and automation has changed lately, and Apple, which was caught flat-footed last year with the proliferation of AI, just stepped right on the rake. Next time, Apple, perhaps read the room instead of just crushing it slowly with a hydraulic press.
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