Apple respectfully trashes Chromebooks

With the launch of its new iPads, Apple insisted on suggesting that the computers your kids are using are really not good.

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The joy of six.

Screenshot by ZDNet

Apple can sometimes seem so superior that it barely notices competition.

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It's an act, of course. Cupertino's only too aware of threats to its self-regarding supremacy.

The company doesn't often, though, succumb to the urge of denigrating its competitors. Not now that Microsoft is far less chuckleworthy.

I was heartened, therefore, to see Apple sniffily dismissing a competitor or two as it launched its latest iPads on Tuesday.

There, in large letters were the words: "3x faster than the top-selling Android tablet." Oh, and: "6x faster than the top-selling Chromebook."

Apple repeated these claims on its website, though the latter was tempered by an "up to" before the three and the six.

It's certainly a strong differential, if it turns out to be entirely accurate in real life.

One reason for highlighting such a stark comparison, perhaps, lies in our new forced lifestyle.

So many parents have experienced the crushing constriction of having their kids working from home, with the added bonus of the parents often having to act as teachers.

Chromebooks have made enormous ground in the education sphere. This has annoyed Apple greatly.

Why last year, then senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller sniffed: "Chromebooks have gotten to the classroom, because, frankly, they're cheap testing tools for required testing. If all you want to do is test kids, well, maybe a cheap notebook will do that. But they're not going to succeed."

Parents don't like the idea of their kids failing.

This time, Apple has chosen the loud whisper: "Wouldn't you want your kids to be six times faster than the kids they're competing with?"

The juxtaposition is certainly dramatic, even though Apple doesn't define the precise Chromebooks it's comparing.

For the briefest of nanaseconds, I wanted to feel sympathy with Google and its Chromebook empire. But then it struck me. 

Last year, Google paid Bill Nye splendid amounts of money -- my life-addled conjecture -- to explain that Chromebooks were wonderful, while Windows laptops were, quite literally, falling apart.

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Google was so enthusiastic about this message, which lasted three minutes, that it didn't even bother to recommend its own hardware, instead suggesting a Dell Inspiron Chromebook 2-in-1, an HP Chromebook 15 G1, or a Samsung Chromebook Plus.

Somehow, Apple's denigration of Chromebooks seems pleasingly demure by comparison.

Oddly, Apple did give Windows laptops a fleeting mention too. It suggested that the new iPad was "up to two times faster than the top-selling Windows laptop." From this one might easily conclude that Windows laptops are actually faster than Chromebooks.

Naturally, you must decide what's best for your kids, or even for yourself. Should you bend toward Chromebooks for school, my colleague Steven Vaughan-Nichols has some ideas.

The question here, though, is how quickly Apple's aggressive message will get through to buyers.

Three times more quickly than it's done before, or six times more quickly? Or a little more slowly than that?