Apple's new iPhone ads should be called App Store, iTunes Store, iBooks Store

Apple's new iPhone ads should be called App Store, iTunes Store, iBooks Store

Chris posted Apple's new "if you don't have an iPhone" ads earlier and they didn't really work for me. Apple usually nails their marketing and these were somehow... qualitatively different. Watching them again I think I figured out why. These weren't commercials for apps, music, or books, not entirely at least. These were, in their latter halves, commercials for App Store, iTunes Store, and iBooks Store. This wasn't Apple differentiating solely based on their playing, listening, and reading experiences. This was Apple showing off their massive and still growing content catalogs, and the ease with which that content can be acquired and enjoyed. And that's fine in theory but in practice they just didn't seem to come off as well as past commercials. At least not to me and I'm an admitted enthusiast.

When the original iPhone launched, Apple's commercials focused on internet and activities that could be done on the phone -- the web, email, iPod, maps, etc. They showed you what you could do and most importantly, how easily you could do it. The second part was key. Hardly anything they showed was new to existing smartphone users but in practice, but the UI made it better and more accessible than ever before. And Apple wanted to show that.

Following iPhone 3G and the App Store, Apple began their famous App for That series which continued with iPhone 3GS and App for Everything. Again there was some brief education about how to use the App Store in the commercials, and some crowing about the huge and growing numbers of apps available, but the focus was undeniably on the apps.

By iPhone 4 competing platforms began to get competitive app catalogs and Google's Android Market was gaining momentum, so Apple shifted back to features like FaceTime, Retina Display, battery life, etc.

Since competing phones have or will start to match those iPhone 4 features, however, I wondered what Apple would do next. I thought they might go back to apps, specifically games like Infinity Blade that hadn't shown up yet on rival platforms. I think they still might. I wouldn't be surprised to see an Infinity Blade, Real Racing 2 HD, or more likely a GarageBand commercial for iPad 2, and when the Apple A5 chipset presumably hits iPhone 5 this summer, I'd be surprised if we didn't see just that. Apple has made it clear they're "post-PC" and re-framing the debate from specs to experiences. They're also really good at writing really good mobile software, which can't be said about everyone in the market -- yet.

But that's not what Apple did, at least not in these commercials. There was a brief Two is Better than One stint to launch the iPhone on a second US network, fun-house mirrored by Verizon and AT&T spots, then they went right back to features but shifted to ecommerce -- App Store, iTunes Store, and iBooks Store. No one else has that diversity of content in one place, in as many countries, available with one-click ease under a single account login. (Sony should but they're lost in the wilderness at this point, Amazon might when they launch their app store and link it to MP3 and Kindle, and Philp Berne says Samsung does though I'm not sure it's iTunes level yet.)

Like battery life, Apple's online marketplaces aren't obvious choices for a commercial. I'm not sure how many consumers weigh which phone has the best stores before buying. Sure, like great battery life it's what lets you do what you want to do -- play, listen, watch, read, but it comes off as being Apple-centric and not consumer-centric. They're ads for stores and not for stuff, and those never seem to come off as well.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple's new iPhone ads should be called App Store, iTunes Store, iBooks Store


I like the new ads. It kind of give more pizzaz to iPhone users by the line "then you don't have an iPhone."

I thought when I saw the advertising that is was not so much for the public looking to sell the iphone, ipad or ipod it was very much directed towards the rival platforms, ie Android, Blackberry, Palm etc and says, We already have these and we have content on them and you have a long way to reach the level that we are at right now and we will always be ahead of you.
The other platforms will always be playing a catchup game because app vendors will be pushing the Apple platform first because they have a safe way of being paid where they don't have to worry about dealing with the customer directly, Apple gets their money and advertises their product through itunes.
When I had a blackberry their blackberry world app store would never let me complete a purchase, didn't matter how hard I tried to complete a purchase it would always crash out and was very frustrating. On top of that the apps, even those that were equivalent to those that were on itunes never had the same functionality, for example the ebay and paypal apps, were and still, are functionally inferior to the versions for the Apple market. Chase bank, they did not, no, still don't have a functional app for the blackberry and have only just released an Android version.
Only on the Apple platform is there a massive range of working app's and a centralized, safe way for both vendor and public, method of making payment to those that want paid for their app's.

typical apple fanboy. Apple is afraid of Android considering Android is taking over the market. Don't get me wrong, I love my iphone (unfortunately bricked), but android is kicking names and taking ass.

C'est le lot des societes qui vennedt beaucoup de se voir pointer du doigt sur des sujets qui en fait touchent tous les constructeurs. Si ca pouvait les aider a retrouver leur qualite des debuts.

I've grown to expect Apple to use catchy song like "Around the Bend" or "Dog Days..." These were really subdued and it may be why it may feel like a disturbance in the force. I like the idea though, it plays out on so many levels.
@Rene regarding "I’m not sure how many consumers weigh which phone has the best stores before buying"
From my experience, it's a growing factor, I shared your sentiment; I wouldn't have thought so either but it's becoming an increased concern by many of my peers when they're due for an upgrade. It was also a primary reason why I defected from Blackberry

I think thats the exact reason the commercials aren't sitting well with the author here. In some areas the other platforms aren't playing catch up because they aren't behind and are actually ahead. For instance iBooks isn't as large as Google Books and thats ignoring Amazon and B&N on other platforms.
The reason I think these commercials at best won't sit well with many while offending others is because they have crossed in nature from showcasing the good things about the iPhone to purposefully being deceptive. They would directly lead a person to believe for instance that without an iPhone and iBooks they can't have a bookstore in their pocket. Previously the commercials would have simply said iBooks is a book store in your pocket and left it at that.

Well I cmetmnoed on the previous news but basically I want to but an iMac but dint know if I should buy the 2011 or wait for the new one do you know anything about a new iMac?

These commercials are a far cry from Apples usual ones. They use lies like they're fact. I'm sorry but iBooks is not the only mobile book store/viewer. get real

Really? So what you're saying is if you are an apple fanboy, facts don't mean anything? Are you telling me there's no such thing as nook? Kindle? Google Books (which has a ton more books than iBooks)? You are dumb

if u want a free iTunes gtifcard for 15 dollars get this app called shopkick then goto me where it says me at the bottom of the screen then it says promo code tap that and type pigeon8415 that will get u 50 points

I guess I saw something different than Renee did. I watched these ads and I saw:
1) I want a book, an App, a song;
2) I quickly locate it;
3) with one push I buy it and download it.
I think that's the message Apple is sending and I suspect it is an effective message as well. Simplicity, convenience, ease of use. All the hallmarks of Apple.

I agree with FalKirk and as a phone the iPhone is the best thing going right now.... yeah android is taking over as a platform but the user exp on whoevers cheep 2 for 1 or free on contract phone you buy it doesn't match apple.... apple invented this revolution in smartphones and before the I we were all pushing buttons to get through menus or prodding with styli (made that one up I think)... then came apple and then came the followers... apple will always lead because they own the patents... yeah we need a better notification system and a host of other things but i wouldnt trade my I for any of the other crap thats on the market

Eksmith you i-ignorance shines through. The first with the touch screen design as it is today was LG prada it my have been to expensive for most but first. Keep enjoying ignorance!

" will always lead because they own the patents..."
What does that even mean? In order to get patents approved, you must innovate to the point of actually inventing something that is new and different or at least new as far as the application of an existing technology.
Apple and patents often go hand in hand only because Apple applies for, and is granted, more patents than any other technology company, that's all.

In true Apple form, they've for some reason gone down that snarky, mean, wanky path of advertising. Where they imply noone else has what they have, but don't outright say it.
'Macs have iPhoto, a great photo app' - comes across as, ONLY macs have photo apps.
'iPhone has iBooks, a great bookstore' - comes across as ONLY iPhone has a bookstore (though I'm sure I've heard of this place... 'Amazin', or 'Emazon' or something? :P)
It's such a shame. This kind of advertising actually turns some people off. It kinda turns me off the idea of getting an iphone. Still getting an ipad though, but this 'advertising' leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
At least they don't have a hipster guy called 'iOS' and a suited sweaty loser called 'Android'...

Hoping they dnucosit the Mophie Juice Pack Air for my 3GS. Anyone used one before? What did you think?(ant has made 13 comments)