So you think you're a home game console now, do you iPad?
Apple's jab at the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 wasn't technically inaccurate, but its implications are way off the mark.
Jeff BakalarEditor at Large
Jeff is CNET Editor at Large and a host for CNET video. He's regularly featured on CBS and CBSN. He founded the site's longest-running podcast, The 404 Show, which ran for 10 years. He's currently featured on Giant Bomb's Giant Beastcast podcast and has an unhealthy obsession with ice hockey and pinball.
If Apple wants to go after the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 then Apple should make a home console. The iPad is not a home console. It's a portable tablet that can play casual games. The same way an automobile is not a cup holder. It can just hold your coffee while it gets you from point A to B.
It would be just as silly if Microsoft or Sony came out and said their controllers have 15 times the button-pressing capability than the new iPad. They wouldn't be wrong, but it would cause every eye in the house to roll. So here's why Apple's jab at the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 was misleading and cheap.
At the company's event today in San Francisco, Apple Worldwide Marketing SVP Phil Schiller proudly announced that the new iPad has "more memory and higher screen resolution than an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3." I'm not going to argue with technical specs because he's not wrong. Instead, I'm taking issue with what that statement implied.
It's the same kind of implications made back when Apple keynotes used to compare the software library of the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP to iOS--as if a 99-cent title carried the same weight as a $40 Metal Gear Solid game for the PSP.
But before that comment about the 360 and PS3, Apple was patting its own back about how the iPad is the "favorite" device for people who own various products. CEO Tim Cook said it was the "favorite" gaming device for people who even owned home consoles. Wait just a second there. Nobody asked me about that. I can confidently say that as the owner of a MacBook Pro, iPad 2, and all three consoles, the iPad 2 is most certainly not my favorite gaming device. Most of the gamers I know would agree.
And just how scientific of a survey was this? Where was it conducted? Where's the context? I don't like it when companies try and use flashy buzzwords to convince me something that is more or less unprovable. This whole "favorite" device proclamation doesn't provide any compelling arguments.
Home consoles are designed to be played on an infinite number of televisions, all of which vary in screen size and resolution. The new iPad's screen comes in one size that's 9.7 inches. If you could somehow play Mass Effect 3 off an Xbox 360 directly on the new iPad's screen I'd dare you to attempt to point out a significant difference.
This kind of keynote spin is insulting on numerous levels. For one, it downplays your intelligence as a consumer, leading you to believe that a new iPad is capable of delivering an experience that trumps that of a home console. Also, it's a slap in the face to the tens of thousands of talented programmers, designers, and engineers who spend a lot more than a year development cycle crafting home video game systems.
So then why is the statement cheap? Well for starters, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 are going on 6 and 7 years old, respectively. The new iPad had better have some zippier innards than those aging gaming machines. But at the end of the day, if there's one thing we've learned, it's that specs don't necessarily dictate quality. Until iPad games are able to pump out the level of production value seen on the home console side of things, the comparison will remain that of night and day.
Don't get me wrong. I love my iPad 2. It's easily one of the best gadgets I've ever purchased, and it's completely changed the way I interact with media--and most importantly, the way I read comic books. However, the loyal gamer inside me has a problem with it trying to imply it's something that it's not.