Apple: You're a fool if you believe our ads

Apple: You're a fool if you believe our ads

Summary: I've touched before on how Apple's ads can be, well, distort reality, but we now have confirmation from Apple's legal eagles that you shouldn't believe what you see/read/hear. This has lead Wired's Brian X. Chen to call anyone who believes the ads "a fool."

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TOPICS: Hardware, Apple, Mobility
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I've touched before on how Apple's ads can be, well, distort reality, but we now have confirmation from Apple's legal eagles that you shouldn't believe what you see/read/hear. This has lead Wired's Brian X. Chen to call anyone who believes the ads "a fool."

Here's the deal. Apple has filed a legal document (PDF, 425KB) which is an answer to a complaint filed by William Gillis, a 70-year-old San Diego resident who claims that the statement made by Apple in ads that the iPhone 3G was "Twice as fast. Half the price" was bunk (Gillis also complained of overall poor performance, dropped calls and dodgy 3G connections). Buried in that document is a very interesting statement (this is at the top of page 5 for those playing along at home):

16. Plaintiff’s claims, and those of the purported class, are barred by the fact that the alleged deceptive statements were such that no reasonable person in Plaintiff’s position could have reasonably relied on or misunderstood Apple’s statements as claims of fact.

So, Apple claims that is didn't lie, but that a reasonable person wouldn't be expected to believe what he or she came across in ads. In other words, Chen is right, you're a fool if you believe in Apple ads. Apple's defense here is that the claims made in the ads were puffery, claims that are considered subjective rather than objective. I'm not convinced, "Twice as fast. Half the price" sounds quantitative rather than qualitative to me.

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Note: At the time the iPhone 3G was unveiled I questions the accuracy of the "half the price" claim. Just how many disclaimers must a tag line have before the ad department has gone too far in the quest for a catchy statement?

Apple was recently slapped down in the UK for running ads which the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) ruled were misleading.

Topics: Hardware, Apple, Mobility

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28 comments
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  • fine line probably crossed . . ..

    between puffery and lies but maybe they get off technically with their legal $$$ but the more interesting question . .why is Apple 'puffing' so heavily at all? Shouldn't something 'so cool' just sell itself on a more or less factual basis?

    I'm sorry but saying that Apple is just doing what everybody else is doing may get it out of legal trouble but doesn't the hipster/cool and the lofty brand position rely on the perception that Apple is ABOVE acting like everybody else? Doesn't the smugness of those ads also imply they think they ARE above the rest and does this not compound the situation with hypocrisy? Don't they risk a backlash among the young devotees when at some point they wake up and say WTF with all this BS? The Mac vs.PC ads are misleading, the 'greenest' campaign is laughably smug and disputed by Greenpeace who at least in 07 rated Apple LAST, and now this.

    Back on the question of legality: if AXE body spray shows a bunch of beautiful models falling all over a poor chump 1. They probably have a disclaimer and 2. No reasonable person will take this obvious hype as an attempt to portray a real situation

    '2x the speed at half the cost' is a simple statement of a supposed fact and there is no obvious intentional hype suggested
    eggmanbubbagee@...
    • My thoughts

      I know, it gets into a "well, what does 'was' mean" situation.

      Half the cost? What cost? Lifetime costs were greater. The
      original iPhone was not subsidized, so the purchaser got more
      value for the money. It was an assertion about the money it
      took to walk home with the 3G as compared to the 2007
      model. A tad rounded as well.

      Twice the speed. Well, the processor had the same clocking, so
      that measurement of speed is patently untrue. That leaves the
      download speed of 3G vs. Edge as the potential source for the
      claim. Does that twice as fast number make sense? (Realizing
      that network speeds are, as are battery life, always calculated
      and compared under optimal (and rarely seen) conditions.)

      Now perhaps the plaintiff is legitimately aggrieved, I would not
      presume. Still, I am reminded of those who have sued because
      120 GB drives have 112 billion bytes. At some point, one may
      wonder if it's a case of being clever, bringing suit, and laughing
      with the settlement money to the bank.
      DannyO_0x98
      • Sounds like fact, but it's extreme fiction.

        If their statement had at least been partially or nearly true, I don't think the suit would have been filed. The problem is, that the speed seems to be, in many regions, the same or worse than Edge. The network also seems to be much less dependable in many areas. Locally, 3G seems to go up and down at least 20 times an hour, making Safari hang while trying to reestablish a connection on EDGE. Many 3G users are disappointed with the promised performance. Some are outright angry.

        In my mind, letting Apple and ATT get away with promising far more than they delivered would be wrong, so I'm glad to see somebody filed a lawsuit. If nothing else, it publicly emphasizes the ridiculousness of their claims for the benefit of unsuspecting future buyers. I do think it is funny that they were forced to admit that their commercials have no factual basis, not that we didn't already know that.
        BillDem
  • RE: Apple: You're a fool if you believe our ads

    A lot of people realized the ads were full of BS. I've pointed it out on here many times. Apple should still be held accountable for their actions and misleading the public. If they didn't want people to fall for their lies they wouldn't have made the commercials in the first place.
    Loverock Davidson
  • RE: Apple: You're a fool if you believe our ads

    Apple: you're a fool if you buy our product.

    'Nuff said.
    medezark@...
    • Like the saying goes...

      "You believed our ads?" (Fooled you once. Shame on us.)

      "And you bought our product, too?" (Fooled you twice. Shame on "Insert name here".)
      MGP2
  • RE: Pride always comes before a great fall.

    Pride also equals complacency. Jobs has become complacent and Apple is starting to believe its own hype.

    How can they claim that people should take "Twice as fast and half the price" with a pinch of salt?

    If you purchased a CPU that claimed it was twice as fast as the last model for half the price that is what you would expect in the box.

    There is no ambiguity about it. And it says a lot about Apple in that it treats its customers like idiots.

    This attitude cannot, and will not, carry on for long.
    Bozzer
    • Hear, hear!

      Although I believe sensible people would always regard any ads as 'embellished, spun-up facts' especially coming from a company like Apple, who earned the reputation of hype & style over substance (look at the ridiculous Mac vs. Pc ads for instance with the Bill Gates look-alike dork), advertizing is just another form of brainwashing for the feeble minded anyways...


      The hardest tumble a man can make is to fall over his own bluff.
      ~ Ambrose Bierce, 1842-1914, American Author/Editor/Journalist

      (Bluff being a euphemism for BS. And there are a lot more BS spewing losers out there, than truth bearing achievers?)
      JustDoIT
  • RE: Apple: You're a fool if you believe our ads

    I do believe that there are laws prohibiting false advertisements and misleading claims. Bring the hammer down and make an example of Apple as they try and do to others with their legal muscle. Psystar anyone?
    puffmanxx
  • Apple is allowed to lie.

    All of the fanboys agree to this...
    T1Oracle
    • Apple is technically unable to lie

      If the definition of "truth" is: [i]Anything that Apple says.[/i] then Apple is truly incapable of lying. :)
      NonZealot
      • "Leave Apple Alone"

        Remember that dude on YouTube crying over Britney? Reminds me of a few Apple zealots from on here. "Leave Apple Alone"... :)
        Bozzer
        • Maybe...

          Apple should have left MS alone when it came to their other misleading ads. They mention nothing about a persons computer habits, but then claim that all PC's get viruses just because. See if Apple could have kept their big mouth closed then maybe people wouldn't be fighting back against their lies and misleadings. To be honest though you sound like the cry baby with "Leave Apple Alone"!! Poor guy can't fight back with anything truthful. I feel sorry for you actually, you try to find the reasons but all you can say is "I am more productive on my Mac". I hear that phrase repeated over and over and over. Nothing more nothing less. I don't seem to be waiting on my Vista for a damn thing, its always ready to do what I am ready to do. Hey buy Vista I am so much more productive. Productive, Productive, Productive. I just typed that in 3 seconds. Beat that one with your Mac buddy.
          OhTheHumanity
          • A little less caffeine may help

            It's not about computer habits, it's about entertaining TV.

            Just like it's not about how many copies of Vista you sell, it's about how many copies of XP downgrades you can say were Vista sales.
            tomam
          • really?

            "It's not about computer habits, it's about entertaining TV."

            Apple sure is spending a lot of money to entertain us. No, it's about attacking a competitor in a way you HOPE does not appear to be mean spirited and misleading but they have miscalculated and pissed off a lot of "PCs". Here comes the backlash. Take it in a good spirit now.
            eggmanbubbagee@...
  • Apple was silly to be specific

    If you look at most ads for high-tech devices, they don't make any specific claims at all - they just mention a few key features. Perhaps Apple should have used a slogan like:

    [i]Less cost up front, faster data access[/i]

    but that's not nearly as memorable as the one they used.

    As for truth in advertising, can a Motorola Razor really be used to slash a suit?
    Fred Fredrickson
  • Microsoft: You're a fool if you believe our ads

    Mohave - We lied to our test subjects - just like we lied to
    you about Longhorn.

    Seinfeld - We have this new great 300 Million dollar ad
    campaign - oh wait, no never mind.

    I'm a PC and I sell fish. - This is how we try to distract you
    from the other guy's ads. Nevermind that our concept is
    backwards. We say that each person is a computer whereas
    the other guy has a person representing the computer/OS
    itself.
    U53r
    • wow..change the subject

      wow only 8 posts in to flip this from apple to microsoft. way to go FANBOYS
      JoeyF_NYC
  • RE: Apple: You're a fool if you believe our ads

    That's not how the saying goes.

    Fooled me once, shame on you. Fooled me twice, shame
    on me.

    It comes from the perspective of the person who was
    allegedly fooled.

    I upgraded from the EDGE iPhone to the 3G (sold my EDGE
    to a jailbreaker).

    EDGE was more than useable for causal web browsing and
    email but it was unsuitable for VNC and VPN connections
    to control Macs and PCs remotely (unless I used WIFI).

    The 3G connection is PERFECT for remote VNC via Jaadu
    and VPN via Mocha lite. Totally real-time whereas EDGE
    VNC was all but unusable.

    I can tell you that for those applications, it is definitely
    more than twice as fast. Without a doubt.

    As for the price... I paid $500 for the 1st one and $200 for
    the second one. That is less than half. Plus, I got the $100
    refund from the 1st one and I sold my EDGE for $250 :).

    Network speeds surely vary from region to region, both
    EDGE and 3G, depending on numerous factors.

    Saying 3G is twice as fast as EDGE is a perfectly reasonable
    summary of the internet and remote administration
    experience.

    I was not lied to.
    U53r
  • First Steve Mobs, now this.

    :-)
    UncleBubba