As a general rule, Apple doesn’t mention the competition very often. In fact, even when comparing their processor speed or camera improvements in the past, the company generally just compares their latest hardware to the past generations of their own stuff. And they do this for a very good reason. Instead of giving you any reason whatsoever to go and research a competing device, Apple tends to keep the conversation in-house and this gives consumers a different framework to approach their hardware from. The question isn’t how much better is this Apple product versus Google’s? Instead, it becomes how much better is this product versus the same one Apple made last year and should I upgrade?
Sneaky? Sure. Calculated? You bet, but it makes a lot of sense when you think about it. I watched a video recently about this tactic and it does a great job at keeping the narrative steered into a world that is all-Apple, all the time. By not mentioning the competition, Apple basically elevates themselves above everyone else in their own eyes. By doing this – by not even giving the competition a mention – they almost create an alternate reality inside their influence bubble that gently tells the consumer that there isn’t even anything out there worth paying attention to besides Apple.
That veneer broke down a bit yesterday as Apple moved into the iPad portion of their keynote. Within the first minute of the actual iPad presentation, Apple broke with the norm and quickly called out the fact that their newest entry-level iPad with the A13 Bionic chip is “up to 3X faster than the best-selling Chromebook and up to 6X faster than the best selling Android tablet.” Take a look for yourself at the 7:45 minute mark in the video below.
Now, they didn’t linger on this for any real length of time, and that was likely on purpose, but did you catch what they were actually saying? This new iPad isn’t 3X faster than the fastest Chromebook. Nope. It’s 3X faster than the best-selling Chromebook. And you can likely guess what those best-selling Chromebooks are: entry-level, low-priced EDU-centric devices. Seriously, take a quick look at Best Buy or Amazon and sort by best sellers. You’ll find Chromebooks with the Celeron N3350 (2 generations old) and the MediaTek MT8183 on board. These processors struggle to get close to 10K on Octane and would fall into the lowest performance category on anyone’s Chromebook list.
So, Apple’s actual comparison is that their new iPad is 3X faster than the slowest Chromebooks you can buy right now. When you put it that way, not only does it not sound impressive at all, it almost feels like Apple was purposefully misleading would-be consumers to make their product look better than it really is. No tech company would do that, would they?
A mention means they’re paying attention
So, Apple used some creative language to upsell their new iPad. No harm, no foul, right? If you are paying any attention at all, you know this happens all the time with all sorts of products. It’s misleading to the point of almost lying, but it’s not technically wrong. But there’s no doubt that the subtle mention of this skewed statistic points to the fact that Apple is starting to take note of Chromebooks and the impact Google is having in the low-cost market.
As I said in the opening of this post, Apple’s not one to directly mention competitors very often, so the fact that they saw the need to specifically call out Chromebooks tells me that they are keenly aware of the dominance Chromebooks have in the affordable computing space and in school settings as well. How could they not be?
And as aggravating as the misleading statistics can be, I can’t help but feel a little bit of flattery that Apple felt the need to acknowledge Chromebooks in this way. For so long, Apple product and Google products have occupied such different lanes, I never really thought of Chromebooks as any sort of threat to Apple in any way. With this mention in a high-level keynote, that feels like it is shifting. Apple sees the growing prevalence of Chromebooks and maybe – just maybe – they are a tad bit threatened by it. And that, my friends, is a pretty cool thing for us Chrome OS fans.