Forty years ago the Apple Macintosh was introduced to the world in one of the most acclaimed TV commercials ever made. Aired during the Super Bowl, it was loosely based on George Orwell’s 1984 and highlighted how the Macintosh was the creative solution to the nightmare of a dystopian future.

This week, Apple aired a new advert for its latest iPad range. The commercial begins with a pile of creative objects – musical instruments, paints, toys, models – being crushed by a hydraulic press. As the press releases its crush, the objects have disappeared and are replaced by the new iPad.

Apple die-hards hated the advert, accusing the company of killing creativity and becoming the faceless, dystopian future that the original Macintosh advert railed against.

The Apple PR machine is in full flow apologising for the new advert, but will that work? Over the past two decades, the success of Apple has generated billions of dollars in profits, but it has also meant that the company has become more distant from its traditional, core customer base of young, creative professionals. As a brand, the rebellious challenger has become the monolithic tyrant.

My longer-serving subscribers will know that I have a phrase that “nothing fails like success.” In other words, a company’s success can, over time, create the inertia, defensiveness and arrogance that sow the seeds of its ultimate demise.

I’m not saying that Apple is in trouble right now, but I do see some signs of the inertia and arrogance that brought down other companies, such as Nokia, Blockbuster and Kodak. It will be interesting to see how Apple responds to this setback, but it will also be fascinating to see if a new player can take the place of Apple as the #1 rebellious challenger for Apple’s traditional core customer base.

What about your industry? Who are the market leaders and what signs of inertia, defensiveness and arrogance are they displaying that could give you an opportunity to attract their customers and drive new growth?

Off The Record: 1984 by David Bowie

Someday they won’t let you, now you must agree

The times they are a-telling, and the changing isn’t free

You’ve read it in the tea leaves, and the tracks are on TV

Beware the savage jaw

Of 1984