I love Apple's reality distortion field. I love it because despite being jaded and wary of marketing hyperbole, Apple's marketing is so good that I almost fall for it. In fact, resisting their products is becoming harder (getting an iPod for Christmas was a slippery slope).
The latest example of how I was nearly caught out by their marketing was today's unexpected iPhone press release where Apple detailed an improved battery life compared to information they released back in January.
But it's not the battery life data that nearly made me weaken and want an iPhone. It was the competitive data chart where Apple compares the iPhone to the Nokia N95, the Samsung Blackjack, the Blackberry Curve 830D and the Palm Treo 750. Against the criteria that Apple chose, the iPhone looks like the clear winner - bags of battery life, glass display surface (although no word on how robust this is), and WiFi (check out this earlier version of the chart where Apple forgot that the N95 was WiFi enabled).
But Apple's marketing is sneaky because you're being gamed. Just like a magician distracts you and gets you to look at the hand that isn't pocketing the coin, Apple is good at convincing you to focus on the features that it says are important and ignore the rest. This chart is a fine example of this kind of sleight of hand. Looking at the chart it's easy to think that phone thickness, screen size, display surface, WiFi and battery life are all that matters, but what about other features such as:
- Replaceable battery
- Traditional keyboard
- Flash compatible
- Camera resolution
- Native email support
- Choice of networks
Add these features to the comparison chart and you get a much more honest comparison of the phones and the winner is far less clear-cut. Sure, the iPhone has some innovative features, but it's not a hand's down winner by no means.
I'm also not sold of the battery life claim. I've yet to come across a manufacturer that doesn't exaggerate when it comes to how long the batteries will last.