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Apple's new iPhone ad is about quantity, not quality

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Apple's ads have succeeded in recent years by tying technology to family reunions, loved ones, and other integral parts of your life. The company's latest Apple Watch ads have followed this template, eschewing a direct voiceover in favor of clips showing the device in use as a fitness aid — tracking your heartbeat, waking you up for morning calisthenics, helping you hire a bike to ride home. But where Apple's Watch ads are focused and efficient, its latest iPhone ads are strangely general, reminding a generation to whom the iPhone is ubiquitous that — hey! — the iPhone exists.

The company's newest ad, titled "Amazing Apps" and put on YouTube today, attempts to sell the iPhone by simply touting the number of apps available on the App Store. "This is an iPhone, and it comes with something amazing," the ad's voiceover says. "More than one-and-a-half-million of the best apps available." It's an impressive number of programs, but how is it different from the huge number of apps available on the Google Play store? Why do I need an iPhone if I can also get these apps on iPad or Mac? Why do I need a million apps in the first place? And if you're really trying to sell an iPhone by explaining what an iPhone is, don't you also need to tell me what the hell an app is?

Apple's left emphasizing the sheer quantity of software available on iPhone

"Amazing Apps" also mentions curation, stating that Apple hand-picks software for its App Store, but doesn't actually have time to call out any apps specifically in its short 30-second slot. Instead, it simply flashes hundreds of apps past the viewer in a Fantasia-like dance, iPhones twirling and spinning as they display snippets of racing game, tabata timer, and stock portfolios. Apple's left emphasizing quantity of software as a key feature of its flagship device — not necessarily the best approach when a look at the sheer number of Threes! clones, for example, proves that not everything accepted onto the App Store is a slam dunk.

Apple closes the ad by describing the iPhone's apps as "surprising, awe-inspiring," and "who-knew-a-phone-could-do-that?" The answer to that last one — everyone. In 2007, we might have been shocked when our phones could scan the night sky for stars or sift through our email inboxes. In 2015, we're only surprised when we find out the rectangles in our pockets can't do everything.