Technology

How The Apple 2024 iPad Event Made Me Realize Empathy Is Dead In The Tech World

Are we all doomed?

Nonggol Darapati
9 min readMay 11, 2024

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Image courtesy: apple.com + author

By now you must’ve heard about the first time in history Apple sent out a public apology. Ironically, the apology came soon after Apple unveiled the be-all end-all Let Loose event which focused on the iPad Pro and Air on May 7th, 2024.

Every year, Apple introduces a slightly upgraded version on its existing devices and markets it as the most advanced or best product the brand has ever come up with (until next year). The recent May event was no exception. Apple unveiled its new iPad Air and Pro which are the most powerful and thinnest iPads yet.

The backlash came when Apple demonstrated how powerful the new iPad was and used an industrial press to crush an array of creative objects such as a piano, books, paint cans, modeling dolls, an arcade game machine, and also a metronome to deliver its point.

AP YouTube on Apple crushing instruments

After the ad aired, many observers pointed out that the ad seemed to signal technology as a force to destroy human creativity, rather than enable and enhance it. Currently a sensitive subject as many people around the world are concerned about the impact of AI on their livelihoods.

If you watched the Apple event when it aired, you may have noticed that despite the current global situation, for Apple, it’s just business as usual. This made me realize how out of touch the tech world is with the real world.

Apple was still showing people in libraries using their new products in addition to the clean, pristine workspaces that are synonymous with tech and the financial abundance that it represents. Not to mention the new Apple Final Cut Camera app which allows users to connect multiple Apple cameras to one device, which is not something the average consumer uses. Nobody needs three different angles of a family picnic picture.

If you’ve been following the news and social media you might have noticed people are facing an economic crunch that is unprecedented. With high layoffs around the world, LinkedIn is filled with posts from people desperately seeking new opportunities. Furthermore, the cost of basic food staples has skyrocketed, it has gotten to a point where even fast food is no longer affordable for many.

Throughout the years, Apple has always adapted to the environmental climate and situation in the world. When there was a demand for sustainability, Apple came up with the Mother Nature skit to show its sustainability. During the COVID lockdown, Apple’s events were held with social distancing protocols in place. And yet, today, when the world is sick not from viruses but from inflation and lack of jobs, Apple has kept silent.

Perhaps it was because in 2024, Apple had just shut down its car project and laid off 600 employees. In the first quarter of 2024, more than 75,000 tech people were laid off. Instead of crushing creative items, while maintaining pristine tech offices and spaces, Apple could have used this opportunity to show how the new iPad could benefit people who were recently laid off and are in need. Apple could have shown how the new iPads are the tools people need to level themselves up as they seek new opportunities.

Apple could have shown employees who were laid off pivoting and becoming business owners in their homes using the iPad to create their businesses or content. In addition, the brand could have shown people upskilling themselves on platforms such as Coursera to learn AI or other skills. Apple could have partnered up with Duolingo, Canva, or Coursera and offered exclusive subscriptions and packages between those brands and iPad.

There were so many angles Apple could have gone with to promote its latest product. Especially since it was promoting the iPad Air and Pro, both of which would suit the professional entrepreneur audience.

Instead, it chose the go down the path so many techies often take “We are better than you” and destroyed an array of creative tools used by many people around the world to earn a living. Why work with skills and manual labor when you can do it all with a push of a button?

For those who have never worked in the tech space or a startup, the technology itself is often flawless. The people however are of a different category. Working in tech feels like entering a sorority house. People need to know someone to get in and also come from a certain educational background.

I remember the days when I worked in the start-up space, the question that often goes around when discussing potential hires is, “Did that person go to the same university as us?” or “Has that person worked in a big tech company before?” Raw talent was often overlooked in favor of an alumni network and big tech stamp regardless of their performance. Image was and is everything. This explains why so many tech stars in the 30 under 30 lists end up in prison after having crashed their companies instead of saving the world.

If Apple’s latest iPad event seems out of touch and insensitive to reality, it’s a reminder that this is how the tech world works. People working in tech want to create an impact and save the world without actually paying attention to what needs saving. These days tech is no better than the FMCG companies slowly choke holding the world with their unending plastic packaging killing our planet.

Every year Apple comes out with a “new”, “latest”, and “best in class” product which is often merely an upgrade in screen size, battery life, and processor speed. The brand hails itself as being at the forefront of innovation and yet with the demise of Steve Jobs, Apple has stopped innovating. Even with the rise of AI, Apple has chosen a shortcut and is considering implementing Open AI’s Chat GPT into the iPhones in lieu of creating its own AI.

Image courtesy: Apple.com

It has been a few days since the new iPad Air and iPad Pro were revealed and already these products are creating buzz. The wrong kind. For starters, the iPad Air has always been synonymous with being the lightest iPad, hence the name Air. And yet the new iPad Air is heavier than the newest iPad Pro. People were excited for the new iPad Pro since it was rumored to be capable of replacing a laptop and would be jam-packed with new capabilities and the M4 chip. However, in reality, the iPad Pro is still can’t be used as a laptop replacement.

What has caught my attention is the fact that Apple, parades and touts its achievements like it’s the next best thing after sliced bread. Year after year, the brand reveals a slightly bigger screen, an upgrade in camera, and other upgrades. Minor upgrades that are set on a backdrop of a fancy stage, packaging, and presentation. Smoke and mirrors to camouflage the fact that these upgrades were not needed, necessary, nor asked. Apple device’s yearly upgrades are neither mind-blowing nor earth-shattering and are a far cry from the first iPhone which changed the world.

This made me realize the impact Apple has on the younger generation and why GenZ is famous for quiet quitting, the trad wife trend, and even Bare Minimum Mondays. For years Apple has celebrated its bare achievements as milestones and marketing them heavily. Making today’s youth believe that insignificant achievements and minor upgrades should be celebrated with the same gravitas as the first man to walk on the moon.

Having watched Apple events every year has made me realize, that no matter what is going on in the world, whether it be famine, flood, layoffs, inflation, or wars, Apple would do one thing and one thing only, act as if the world is still in the pre-pandemic era, a time when startups were still going strong, VCs were still burning cash and Apple products were still cool.

Apple’s marketing people are still the people who want to look cool, pitch to VCs, and end every sentence with “I went to (insert college name here).” My question is after all we’ve been through the last two years, the world having been turned upside down by inflation, pandemics, wars, and natural disasters, does this persona still exist? Does the Apple team know and do they care? Or is this event just another item to complete on somebody’s KPI check box which explains why Apple sales have fallen in nearly every country?

The latest backlash of the iPad event shows how out of touch the Apple team is with reality. And it was a wake-up call for me and perhaps for many others that at the end of the day, big tech isn’t here to save humanity nor to help propel humans to our next chapter as they would have us believe. No, they are here to make money and maximize profits, just as any business. And in business, humanity comes second, always.

I’ve been a big fan of Apple and had thought it was indeed the be-all-end-all-all company when it came to big tech, their messaging over the years resonated with me and made me believe that if we just had the right tech, maybe humanity isn’t doomed after all.

However, after watching the Let Loose event and how in Apple’s eyes, humanity’s history and crafts should be crushed and replaced by cold steel, I’m not convinced that big tech is the answer humanity needs to get out of the mess we’ve dug ourselves into.

Since tech companies won’t save us and neither will anyone on the 30 under 30 list, who else is left?

Billionaires come to mind considering the vast wealth and resources they have. However, according to Hassan Minhaj, “Billionaires Won’t Save Us” either.

But I beg to differ, not all billionaires will save us, but unlike corporations, there is a possibility that these billionaires, made of flesh and blood, and a beating heart, can and will do more than a corporation that answers to a board of directors and shareholders.

Penance and guilt can take many forms, just take a look at Charles Feeney, who is the co-founder of Duty-Free Shoppers. He gave away 375,000% of his net worth. Yes, the math is correct and yes it happened. Ever heard of a corporation or tech company giving away their profits to charity to make the world a better place?

McKenzie Scott, the former wife of Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon is following suit. She is worth USD 35.1 Billion and through her organization Yield Giving, she recently announced she will give away USD 640 Million to nonprofit organizations.

In February 2024, Ruth Gottesman donated a billion dollars to the Bronx Medical School to ensure that the students will be able to have free tuition. These are some of the examples of billionaires doing their part to make the world a better place.

In February 2024, Ruth Gottesman donated a billion dollars to the Bronx Medical School to ensure that the students will be able to have free tuition. These are some examples of billionaires doing their part to make the world a better place.

So what is the world coming to, you ask, if tech won’t save us?

Having great tech is a start, but great tech alone cannot create change on the ground. The world still needs good people with kind hearts. And a good heart doesn’t necessarily come attached to the smartest people in the room.

A good heart comes from living a full life, facing adversities, and having felt cold, hunger, desperation, and loneliness. The world needs people who have gone through the worst things that the world has to offer and still make it to the other side, filled with hope and wanting to create a difference. And along the way, lending a helping hand to those who are treading on the same path.

Life doesn’t happen behind a computer screen, in a library, and certainly not in a co-working space or pristine big-tech office. So even though tech giants and business titans may not save us, rest assured that we can save ourselves and the world along with it.

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