Flashback to 1984: shaven-headed men in drab grey smocks march in lockstep through a futuristic cityscape. Sledgehammer in hand, a blonde woman in bright orange gym shorts breaks into a sprint, chased by faceless security guards. As Big Brother sermonises on a giant overhead screen, the woman crouches, spins in an Olympic hammer throw and smashes the screen to smithereens.
No, it wasn't an excerpt from George Orwell's dystopian classic, but just a pitch during that year's Super Bowl.
The commercial ends with the giant screen turning blank and the words: "On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce the MacIntosh. And you'll see why 1984 will not be like '1984'."
That was Apple's bold challenge to the titans of personal computing. Now, for the first time in two decades, Apple has recorded a higher quarterly profit than its rival: $5.99 billion to $5.23 billion. The last time it was in this position, Apple was walloped by the release of Microsoft's Windows 3.1. But now with the wildly popular iPod and iPhone, the upstart has surged back to supremacy. As the masses queue for the new iPad 2, the question arises: are we the new zombies mesmerised by our gadgets? Is Steve Jobs the new Big Brother?
Beware of hubris, Apple. It brought you down the last time and can always do so again.