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Article: If You Don’t Have an iPhone

by on May 16, 2011

I’m generally not that critical of Apple’s ad campaigns. Sure, some have been a bit repetitive or follow a particular mold (upbeat indie music, white background, device as the spotlight), but I’ve been liking the current iPhone 4 ads less and less for a couple of reasons. If you’re not familiar, the ads demonstrate the various functions an iPhone 4 can do, except the ongoing premise is, “If you don’t have an iPhone, you don’t have…” Obviously, the goal is to point out the strong points of the iPhone, but the ads simply come across as arrogant, and a bit of a John Maddenism. Take a look:

Hello, I’m a Mac

Some have compared these ads to Apple’s Justin Long/John Hodgman collaborations which focused on highlighting the advantages of the Mac over your traditional Windows PC. I think the big difference there is that Apple is the underdog and it’s expected that Apple would be attacking the competition. The iPhone is hardly hurting and, depending on who you ask, is pretty close to Android as far as marketshare goes.

This is the Highest Resolution Display

Apple’s prior iPhone 4 ads featured specific advantages, such as FaceTime or the Retina Display. These focused on what made these features great. In the case of the Retina Display, Apple was informing the public that the iPhone 4’s display was gorgeous, but the tone of the ads focused on saying how fantastic the iPhone’s display is, rather than attacking a particular competitor. Take a look at what Apple was running prior to the “If You Don’t Have an iPhone” series:

It’s Not What You Say

The ads themselves aren’t bad—they highlight functions that make an iPhone appealing to anyone who is using a dumbphone or even something that may not be as ‘seamless’ of an experience, highlight how easy it is to do things, and some of the apps with corporate backers. The argument tends to come from Android users who point out that many of these tasks can be accomplished using other products (Kindle app vs. iBooks, for example), and they have a point. Somehow, Apple really needs to find the balance of highlighting what makes the iPhone great vs. the competition, but also that, at least for many things, offers options from not just Apple, but others, like Amazon or Google.

An Educated Public

Are we at the point where most of the public gets the idea of ‘apps’ on a smartphone? Why doesn’t Apple move on to focus on those features that set the iPhone 4 and iOS apart from the competition, without discussing features that are kind of like something on another platform? Much like the iPad 2 ads, Apple could go for pointing out why the iPhone 4 is special, well-engineered, and still holds up even after over 10 months of being on the market.

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