A Crushing Blow 📧

Apple needs to read the room in which they find themselves...

What came first, the quip or the commercial? What a silly riddle.

But really, it must have been the commercial, right? Right?! 11 minutes and 11 seconds into this week's "Let Loose" Apple event, Apple SVP of Hardware Engineering (and one day, perhaps more?), John Ternus delivered a very typical (these days) Apple dad joke: "Well today, we're not only going to push the limits of what you can do on iPad, we're going to crush them."

It was a joke because that line immediately segued into a video – sorry, the video. The somehow now infamous commercial which Apple will no longer release, showing the hopes and dreams tools of the creative class being crushed by a giant metal press. Demolition and destruction with a hint of desolation and a dash of despair down to an iPad. Nice work, Apple.

Honestly, when I first saw it in real-time, I thought the ad was fine. I really just tied it to the Ternus quip above and thought it was a cute way to use a tech bro turn of phrase. But watching it again. And again. And again. Since no one will shut up about it. I now agree with the creative cohort (I got you, Hugh). It's pretty tone-deaf.

Apple, like seemingly every other company, is currently incapable of shutting up about AI. AI, AI, AI, AI, AI, AI. And they haven't even announced anything yet. WWDC is going to be something else. But all this AI talk, which whips Wall Street into a frothing frenzy has a flipside: many everyday workers, but especially artists right now, worry the technology is coming for their jobs.

And Apple just created a commercial to embody that fear. Inadvertently, sure. But that doesn't make it better! It makes it worse.

Screw your trumpet. Arcade machine. Paint. Piano. Sheet music. Alarm clock. Globe. Monitor. Metronome. Sculpture. Statue. Drum kit. Camera. Record. Lamp. Chess set. Clapper board. Angry bird. Converter. Television. Lens set. Guitar. Sticky notes. Notebooks. Spray paint. And especially crush that GESTALTA artist dummy. Hate that guy.

We're gonna kick you in the emoji balls. Put them in a vice until they explode.1

Paintbrushes are lame. Get an Apple Pencil Pro, loser. Oh, you can't afford one? That's what Apple Pencil is for.

Look, we all get what Apple was going for here. The iPad Pro is an amazing machine that can do so many things – many of which are yes, creative – and it can do so in a form factor that's 5.1mm thick. 5.1mm! It's so impossibly thin that you need a dramatic way to showcase it... such as compressing all these tools of the trade to distill it down to this incredible sheet of glass.

In a vacuum, this might be fine. But we don't live in a vacuum. We live in a world where Apple is under assault and investigations on basically all sides. Goodwill has been eroding over time and the runner who hammer-throws the sledgehammer into the giant face of Big Brother is now the one on that screen.

On one hand, kudos to Apple for apologizing and pulling the ad. On the other, it probably just made the entire thing worse in a Streisand effect kind of way. I fully expect memes of Ternus saying "we're going to crush them" playing for the next 20 years now – especially if he does, in fact, become CEO one day.

What's the solution here for Apple? Dunno. There honestly probably isn't one. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. But I do think kicking off WWDC by opening with the video playing backwards, un-crushing the souls of the creative community, would be a pretty incredible show of humility and sense of humor. Once upon a time, someone else kicked off an event with a similar move...2 Apple, I got you too babe.

As an aside, just wanted to say thanks to all the notes I got in response to the strange situation earlier this week, as documented here. A lot of kind words and a lot of people who have been in similar boats, it seems. Which sure would seem to be a problem – perhaps especially as we enter our age of AI...

Sent from London, England


Inside Microsoft’s Xbox Turmoil – Tom Warren with some details on what is going on inside of the division post-Activision Blizzard deal. It feels one of two ways: either they're in a very awkward moment in between an old and entirely new strategy. Or they have no idea what they're doing and are trying to figure it out in real time. Either way, it sort of feels like Xbox might go away if Microsoft hadn't sunk so much time and money into it. Something, something, sunk cost... 🕹️

Stand-Up Comedy Has Tripled in Size Over the Last Decade – Pretty wild what Netflix has done to this genre of show and really, to this entire industry in a relatively short amount of time. Lucas Shaw also has some details about the wild race for NBA TV rights and the Paramount fiasco in his newsletter. 😂

Marvel Will Release No More Than 3 Movies and 2 Shows Per Year – I'm not sure why it has to be such a strict number. Everyone knows that Disney went overboard during the pandemic and riding off the success of the MCU, but actual quality would seem to matter more than the quantity – strange, I know. Part of that quality equation is not needing to go so deep into the weeds of tangential programming to be able to follow what is going on in a film. The whole operation just got too in its own head for its own good. Too proud of what it accomplished. Too insidery. ⚔️

🧿 The Inner Ring 🧿

The following are the columns sent to paid Spyglass subscribers this week – sign up here for full access and future emails...

The iPad Nano Air Pro
Thoughts on Apple’s “Let Loose” iPad Event

Emptying my brain after the event...

Apple Invents a Laptop with a Touchscreen
The new iPad Pro is awesome. And a bit silly.

...to think through Apple as a stubborn slave to the past...


"I was skeptical of the trust fund baby, you know, dad’s money. Yeah, he had the resources, but he also was the right guy to be able to command those resources."

-- James Cameron, who I also quoted last week, but what can I say? He's quotable. In this case, talking about Skydance's David Ellison, who is, of course, trying (and right now failing – per a link below) to buy Paramount.

Some Thoughts On...

🤖 An AI device taste test

🐇 And Rabbit R1's clear lack of readiness

📱 The iPhone Pro Max taking over the top smartphone spot

🍎 Apple killing off their sticker program

TikTok inevitably suing the US government


  • The messy situation around the sale (or non-sale, as it may be) of Paramount, just continues to get messier. Someone please put them out of their misery...
    • Meanwhile, one potential future Paramount partner Peacock (say that 10 times fast), is a go with its Office reboot/offshoot. Fittingly, it will take place at a dying newspaper...
  • Speaking of dying businesses, RIP Sam Ash, the guitar store I spent far too much time in as a teenager (certainly as someone who cannot now really play guitar still – it was more a vibe, but apparently not anymore after 100 years).
  • OpenAI may be launching its search service on Monday, it seems...
  • Speaking of, Microsoft is also said to be launching a new mobile gaming effort on the web, which will be the 20th time a company has tried to do this dating back to Facebook well over a decade ago...
  • A good use of AI: giving Randy Travis his voice back.
  • Bernard Hill, the actor known best for his portrayal of Théoden, king of Rohan, from The Lord of the Rings trilogy of films, has passed away at 79. Something wild about his career:
    • By appearing in “Titanic” and “The Return of the King,” Mr. Hill became the first actor to star in more than one film to gross over $1 billion and the only actor to appear in two of the three films to win a record 11 Oscars (the third is “Ben-Hur”), The Manchester Evening News reported in 2022.
  • The average MLB game is down to 2:36 – down one minute from last year's massive drop thanks to the new rules including, mainly, the pitch clock. Am I crazy to think that if they get these sub-2 hours, like a futbol/soccer match, the sport could explode in popularity again?
  • A nice send-off for Apple's Smart Keyboard Folio – the OG iPad keyboard before the Magic Keyboard came to rule all. I loved that keyboard case as well – so light and simple. And I actually liked the weird soft keys.
  • Boom's XB-1 jet gets clearance to break the speed of sound, it's just a test but is still great – maybe one day supersonic travel will a reality once again – the Concorde last flew 20 years ago...

More Missives...

Dreaming of an ‘iPad Ultra’
Apple, let us boot iPadOS or macOS on the iPad

What I really want is an iPad that can dual boot macOS...

May the 4th, Rank the 4th
The ‘Star Wars’ movie rankings in 2024

'May the 4th' means revisiting the ranking of Star Wars movies, naturally...

His Dark Matters
Pearl Jam’s latest album matters

I love Pearl Jam's new album, and I'll prove it to you!

Nintendo’s Bait-and-Switch
Well, they just Osbourne’d the Switch... What now?

What exactly is Nintendo's gameplan here...

Give Me Back My Sunsets!
The time Instagram wrongly banned me and threatened to destroy my life. “Oops. Our bad.”

A rough couple of days midweek...

As the Apple Ternus...
Might John Ternus succeed Tim Cook at Apple?

Apple is teeing this up. Can he put Apple's baggage in storage?

Our Streaming Shitshow
Disney Lets a Hundred Bundles Blossom

I can't believe I'm saying this, but please make the options stop!

Thunderstruck or Highway to Hell?
Apple’s AI work nears its big reveal…

What Apple's development of chips for AI servers might mean...

One Euro Thing...

With the Eurovision finals this weekend, it seemed fitting to link to Abba's winning performance of "Waterloo" which was 50 years ago – just a masterclass:

1 I'm listening to music as I write this and I shit you not, "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails just came on. The circle is now complete.

2 True story: I played a small part in this whole thing back in 2010. Jonathan Mann's "Antennagate" song, truly was great Though my favorite -- no, not my song -- was Mann's song about Steve Jobs.