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Technology is a Means, Not an End

One of the many things that Apple gets right is putting technology into people’s hands to achieve things. We see this in their ads, where people are exercising, making a video, capturing special moments with someone else. The technology is not front and center, but ancillary to the human moments of family, friends, and creating something. There’s that emotional connection that so many feel to their Apple devices, and we get those sorts of connections in great commercials like this one.

You can see the difference in other technology advertisements. The people in ads from Spectrum and Verizon seem lonely, cut off, or distracted by technology. They are in a room with other people, but they are wearing headphones, or they are immersed in a screen by themselves. They are not sharing, connecting, or creating, but escaping. This is what Apple wants to avoid (even if it happens in real life, in restaurants and all sorts of places where kids and adults are tuned out).

I see the difference in the Apple Store as well. Apple employees never demonstrate the technology for you, for example. Instead, they get you to engage with an iPad or MacBook, and let you discover and connect with the device. In contrast, when I was at the Microsoft Store last year, the nice but geeky employee quickly commandeered the Surface Pro from me, and then demonstrated what all it could do. This left me feeling marginalized and helpless. The technology wasn’t empowering me or gaining my confidence, it made me feel small, the way technology in the 1980s and 1990s often did for many people.

Apple has made a conscious shift away from manuals, a technological elite, or a demonstration model. Instead, the focus is on engagement, discovery, fun, and empowering our creativity. This is part of why Apple products, and the Apple Store, are simply fun. Their empower us, as a means to an end, and not an end in and of themselves.

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