Apple's new iPhone 5 ads: Protesting too much?

Apple launches new ads that try to justify that not all that much has changed over the years.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read
Apple Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The lovely thing about a new iPhone is that it brings people together.

Whether your Karl is Rove or Marx, whether your Justin is Bieber, Timberlake, or Theroux, somehow the iPhone has always brought so many together in wondrous adoration.

And yet the new iPhone 5 ads released yesterday seem to be creating an oddly conflictual atmosphere.

The ads, to my eyes and ears, seem to be a rather smooth journey back to the future. Some of Apple's recent ads have tended toward the dull. Can anyone remember even one exciting ad for the iPad?

At heart, they've never had to be that interesting, because the brand is so strong, so emotionally powerful, that the best ads have always been the products themselves.

Still, the new ads include some rather pleasant turns of humor. Not pleasant enough for some, however.

A quick perusal of some of the comments from CNET readers suggest a discomfort akin to one too many spicy sausages at lunch.

Commenter Notalilo offered:

Apple must be really proud of the fact that iPhone was the last phone on the market with panorama photo capabilities. The choice of features picked for these commercials really shows that iPhone 5 has nothing on competition (earbuds? really?)

Hoss 805 puts on his 20-gallon hat and declaims:

ALL Propaganda for APPLE, they can easily add every single feature thats available right now but they know they got you guys where they want, they make a new iphone every year, add 1 little thing and they know people will PEE-PEE there Panties just to go get one.

And Nicci_Amber sees red:

It's almost as if Apple is trying to justify its tiny screen by saying things like "it's perfect for the hand." Yeah, right. I have tiny hands and love my 4.5" screen. I'd actually prefer it to be even larger. It makes watching movies, going on the Internet, playing games all the better. It renders a tablet useless. Apple needs to stop justifying the fact that in SEVEN years, all they've done is make the screen a half inch bigger and add LTE. So pathetic. Yet iSheep still fall for it.

It's faintly quaint that a company that has "nothing on the competition" manages to still have something on the competition in so many people's hearts.

It's perhaps almost amusing that some find it painful that Apple is convinced that people like to use their phones one-handed and makes an ad that says so. For them, it seems a sad justification for changing very little and making it seem like a lot.

It's probably true that Apple can't go on making little incremental changes to a beautifully designed core for too much longer. (The excellent, funny new Samsung ad makes fine hay from some truths of the iPhone 5 and its flock.)

It's surely true that the company has to find a new category of gadget in order to expand people's imaginations.

But these little ads will serve merely to persuade not those millions who have already lined up and ordered, but those whose contracts might shortly be up, those who are coming into the market, and those who still look at the iPhone as something desirable -- even though it's been around for a while.

Yes, it's John Stamos or Heidi Klum.

These ads are oddly pleasing, blessedly simple, and very true to the Apple people know.

If only the folks behind the excellent Windows Phones, for example, could find as simple a way to people's innards.