Apple's smarmy TV ads make me sick: A fan's lament

Summary:Even for an enthusiast who's carried the torch for Apple for 25 years, the company's latest round of TV advertising comes off as arrogant and insufferable.

To say that I'm a career Apple person is an understatement. But I have to say, Apple's new TV spots for the iPhone and the iPad make me sick.

I've used Macs since 1985 and I have invested the vast bulk of my professional life as an Apple expert - first in tech support, later in IT, and then as a reporter and editor focused on all things Apple.

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I was one of those Mac users. One of the "round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently" that Richard Dreyfuss talked about in Apple's "Think Different" ad. If you cut me, I bled Apple colors. I'd use every opportunity to evangelize the platform.

I'm sorry about that, seriously. I've grown up.

I still use Macs, but I'm no longer a jerk about it.

All this preamble is simply to reenforce that Apple's new TV spots for the iPhone 4 and the iPad should have me cheering, but instead rub me the wrong way. (If you don't watch TV, or if you have a DVR and skip the ads, you can visit Apple's Web site and see them here.)

Because even for someone who has been thoroughly saturated by all things Apple over the years, the spots come off wrong.

Intones the announcer:

"If you don't have an iPhone, you don't have the App Store. So you don't have the world's largest selection of apps that are this easy to find and this easy to download right to your phone. So it can be almost anything, like a boarding pass. Or do almost anything, like pay for your coffee. Yep, well, if you don't have an iPhone, you don't have an iPhone."

Yes, the recursion is irritating. But it's not so much the actual words that are used. The delivery is condescending, smarmy and self-righteous. In other words, all the things regular folks absolutely hate about Apple and the cult of personality that's surrounded it for so many years.

Apple's certainly emphasizing some of the iPhone's strengths in that ad. I just wish they didn't have to act so smug about it.

Even the Mac vs PC ads starring John Hodgman and Justin Long weren't this insufferable. At least they were infused with humor.

Apple's "If You Asked" spot for the iPad is where absolutely I draw the line. This time, Apple tapped actor and activist Peter Coyote.

"If you ask a parent, they might call it intuitive. If you ask a musician, they might call it inspiring. To a doctor, it's groundbreaking. To a CEO, it's powerful. To a teacher, it's the future. If you ask a child, she might call it magic. And if you asked us, we'd say it's just getting started."

All this happens while iPads, as if by magic, display sequences of imagery and charts and graphs choreographed to the narration.

It's a series of meaningless observations strung together, presumably to infuse viewers with some sense of the iPad's mystique. It's high-level. It's also obnoxious and insufferable.

More than anything, I wish Apple would just cut the crap. Stop trying to tell me how magical the iPad is. As it stands now, Apple isn't doing any better a job of communicating what the iPad is than the Android tablet makers are - and they're miserable at it. And as this market matures and populates, that could be a real problem.

I know that Apple and Steve Jobs tend to bring out a wide reaction in people, especially readers of this site. Say what you want, but the company has done a phenomenal job over the years of developing products that people want and marketing messages to help sell them.

It's just a shame that we see, at least at this latest turn, Apple falling into its own hype by producing flatulent, arrogant ads that tell us that we should like something just because it's Apple.

Sorry, Apple. Even when you're on top of the world, a little humility is in order.

Topics: Smartphones, Apple, Hardware, iPad, Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.