Intel tries to bash Apple again with a terrible ‘social experiment’ ad

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I regret to inform you that Intel has again made a terrible ad to showcase how absolutely not mad it is about Apple switching to its own processors. This one, called “Breaking the Spell,” follows a classic format — people are put in a room and told about features supposedly coming to MacBooks. Then, after they get all excited, the twist! They were actually being told about Windows computers, powered (of course) by Intel. The folks in the ad (which the fine print says are “real people paid for their time and opinions”) are speechless and then clamor to buy or take the laptops, presumably now that they’ve awoken to the possibilities of the PC.

It’s an ad format that’s never been great, but the real kicker is that it makes absolutely no sense here — in the intro, Intel claims it’s showing off “new technology” and “innovations” and then proceeds to show people absolutely gobsmacked by tech that is old news by almost any standard.

If you’re brave, you can give it a watch below.

I know that when it comes to tech news, there can be somewhat of a bubble, with writers and readers thinking that certain things are more well-known to the general public than they are. But really, if you’ve walked into Best Buy’s laptop section at some point in the past decade, you probably would’ve seen some of the things the people in the ad are shell-shocked by: two-in-one laptops that fold to become a tablet have been popular since the early 2010s, Intel’s been pushing laptops with two screens since 2018, and PC gaming was a thing before the original IBM Personal Computer that popularized the term “PC.”

To be fair, secret rooms are always pretty cool (unless they’re serial killer dungeons, I guess).
Image: Intel

As for Intel’s upgradability argument, I agree. While I understand that Apple building RAM into the same chip as the processor probably has some performance benefit, it does bite that you can’t upgrade — especially when M1 laptops start with a paltry 8GB and carry a $200 charge for the 16GB upgrade. The problem is, though, that there’s a high chance that the Windows laptop this ad inspires you to buy will also have unremovable and non-upgradeable memory. While you can find Windows laptops with swappable RAM or SSDs, nowadays, that’s a notable feature rather than an expected one.

Perhaps this ad would be at least closer to forgivable if it wasn’t a mashup of another series of ads Intel made featuring “I’m a Mac” actor Justin Long (which people hated) and those Chevy truck commercials (which people also hated).

The like to dislike ratio for Intel’s new ad. Lots of people still spellbound, I guess.
The ratio for Intel’s “Justin Gets Real: Having Choices” ad.

Wait, actually, yes, it would still suck — because Intel’s bragging about things you can find in laptops with chips from its other competitor, AMD. There are 2-in-1s rocking Ryzen chips, and our top gaming laptop for 2021 has both an AMD CPU and a slot to add more RAM. “But what about dual-screen laptops with AMD,” asked probably no one because it’s a niche product category. Asus has you covered.

I don’t want this criticism to come off as being done by a butthurt Apple fan who’s, as one person in the ad put it, “100 percent loyal to Apple.” (Who talks like that?) While I mostly use Apple products, I’m also an unabashed old ThinkPad lover who thinks Intel has a point — if you can look past how condescending and embarrassing this ad campaign is. I do wish Apple gave people more choice and more upgradability with its computers, and I think people should be more willing to give other computing platforms a shot if they fit their needs better. But does an ad full of people acting like they’ve never seen a computer convince anyone of that?


It’s Intel’s version of Microsoft’s "Scroogled" routine.
Another mark of desperation.

What about better performance per watt? Without throttling, of course

Why would you want to test something that never happens in real life
An Intel-CPU in a Notebook that is not throttling? Keep on dreaming.

"One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back."

― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

That explains a lot of politics and religion.

This ad and every other ad bashing apple, Microsoft, google or whatever always missed the point – it’s the OS that matters at the end of the day.

The OS dictates quite a bit too. There’s one commercial OS that can run in 2-in-1 PCs, you’re locked into Windows if you want that form factor. The commercial, as cheesy and terrible as it is, is correct in that other OEMs are making products that Apple isn’t and that they’re all (or mostly) running Windows. The stabs at Apple are true but terribly done.

At the end of the day, there isn’t anything a company can do to persuade users one way or the other and it all terribly comes across.

Intel seem to spend a lot of their marketing energy going after Apple, who have a small share of the PC market, and actually make Macs not WinPC’s, all whilst AMD gains popularity.

well you can’t roast someone better than you

Because the laptop processors that Intel is putting out are as good as the M1 :d.

Because it’s easier to get someone to switch from AMD to Intel. They’re running the same OS and software and many times you have a choice between Intel and AMD on the same system. If Intel’s really concerned about market share, all they really need to do is lower their prices. Boom, someone picks Intel instead of AMD on their next laptop. (Selling based on price is not a great way to build loyalty, but I’m just saying, there are simple ways to take share back from AMD if that’s what they want to do.)

If someone switches to Apple, though, then Intel has to really work to get them back. You’re asking someone to give up a whole ecosystem (née "platform") with products now totally distinct from Intel’s. And Apple has been slowly but surely building up market share in laptops for decades now. Time was, they were at about 3-4% in the 90’s. Now they’re at what, 15%? It’s been a relatively steady climb, and there’s no indication that trend is going to reverse itself. Now that Apple’s a competitor rather than a partner, they should expect Intel to be trying to take customers back. We’re back to the Wintel vs. Apple days.

Yeah, people buy a Mac largely because they want MacOS (don’t blame them, I loved each of mine – better UX and design than Windows, plus Unix based, only downside is app compatibility and limited hardware choice).

I have literally zero brand loyalty in any market, I really don’t care which sticker is on what I buy so long as I get the objectively better option – be that great price, reliability or performance.
Intel, all you gotta do is demonstrate that you’re objectively better than your competition (who is AMD, not Apple) and right now, you ain’t. Esp. in the mobile space, Intel is generally performing equally or slower, running hotter and consuming more power. Sure, if that laptop was a big chunk cheaper I could take the compromise but they’re not.
Only reason laptops are still so dominated by Intel is because of their heavy push on OEMs (and a little bribery), that’s not competing on product that’s competing on being bigger.

Intel better hope AMD doesn’t sort out their OEM partnerships (Intel isn’t just more intense with it, AMD is also pretty useless at getting partners on board and on making it easy to become a partner) or they’re gonna suffer big time (yeah, data centre market etc. etc. but they’re suffering in the consumer space)

SOME people buy a Mac because MacOS. Others do it because they don’t know any better and put up with the different OS because they saw others doing the same.

Not all users are the same or have the same wants and needs.

But yes, Intel definitely needs to step up their chip game (specially looking at how performant the AMD and M1 chips have been)… at least Alder Lake seems like a step in the right direction.

Intel just bribes OEMS to continue to mainly use their processors on laptops so AMD isn’t much of a concern.

They can’t do the same with Apple anymore, so they are trying to convince consumers to not go Apple because for many, it’s a one way street.

Intel isn’t just afraid of the Apple M SoCs, which will only power a fraction of the computers sold each year. Apple’s lead is also inspiring others to come up with M1 alternatives. Google launched its Tensor SoC for Pixel phones, and versions of it might very well power Pixel-branded laptops and tablets in the future. Samsung might have similar ambitions for its ARM chips. And these SoCs could replace Intel in traditional Windows laptops.

This is why Intel is scared.

Yes. Until Intel leaps them all once again due to new ASML fabricatio technology that only they will have access to. There is a great chance Intel will be making majority of the new chips for others that have come up with their own chips

What would be that mythical technology? High NA EUV Intel is getting first, closely followed by TSMC? It won’t help enough.

Closeley followed? Not really.

Biggest reason – if they manage to convince folks to stay on Windows/x86 they have just AMD to compete with. If ARM is a fair game, this opens two huge problems:
1.) Instead of 1 competitor, Intel has at least 3 other relevant ones supplying OEMs (Qualcomm, MediaTek, Samsung) and many others that don’t (Apple, Amazon, Google, Ampere …). All of those competitors are ahead in perf/W. Against Apple’s A15, only AMD’s desktop chips still win in performance (but obviously with worse efficiency).
2.) Once ARM is fair game, you can’t get x86 dominance again. Unless a decade or two of clearly superior performance happens. But in the mean time, gates are wide open for other ISAs.

Second point is that a lot of these categories are essentially Intel-only. AMD did make large inroads in ordinary laptops, but not in those hybrid devices yet.

Finally, they are going after AMD too, their entire "better performance on battery" campaign was against AMD. It is just that Intel has the last bastion of "WE are in the fancy designs", their performance and efficiency isn’t too good.

A small share of the PC market, sure… but all of their computers prior to the ARM M1 were using Intel’s i-series, their most profitable line. Those orders are now cut way down and will be hitting zero eventually. Intel’s goal here is to stem the bleeding, especially with Microsoft pushing hard towards ARM as well.

Read that headline as

"Incel tries to bash Apple again with a terrible ‘social experiment’ ad."

Had a confusing moment there

I’m surprised Intel has figured out Youtube.

Are you saying Intel’s VCR is perpetually flashing "12:00"?

The first people who can give me a 12" laptop with legit all day battery will get the business. And Intel’s not going to get there first, bet.

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