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Saturday, February 27, 2010

The iPad - 4 deceptive tactics used by Apple Marketing.

Guest Post
By Helen Bach.

Apple Marketing is many times deceptive, and they persist until called out on it. Like Marketing and advert imagery that shows Flash content on a device that by design and spec will NOT play Flash.

Oops. Again and Again. The Above Image was taken right from the Apple.com homepage. The image in it was a flashplayer gallery . It should have been a blue block broken plugin symbol and that would have made the New York Times Travel section appear to have NO IMAGES.

The Marketing that surrounds the Apple iPad has been repeatedly faulty. Apple management openly derisive of things it should have left be, and the backlash is getting louder. They will reap what they sow.

Typical of what we post here, the Native Screen Resolution, in Pixels, rears its massively fanged head once again to prevent over-statement of capability and fooling people that 720p and HD1080 should be used in association with devices that have less than 1280 pixels to show for it.

1) The Current Use of 720p in iPad marketing by Apple Inc is false.

A requirement for claiming 720p is having native resolution equal to or greater than 1280 x 720 pixels, and generally also means 16:9 aspect ratio. The Published iPad Specification is neither 720p nor 16:9 - The iPad is 1024 x 768 and 4:3 typical of old laptops from 2003

"720p" with the word "display" is a High Def Spec requiring a minimum native resolution of 1280x720 or greater.

720p not an "option" in mp4 codec encoding when used as a feature , its called a specification. Any display of less than 1280 pixels width and/or 720 pixels height is NOT 720p and cannot be attributed as capable of 720p display. It is scaled down rendering of source 720p file types only.

From apple.com http://www.apple.com/ipad/specs/

TV and video
  • H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
This is deceptive advertising, and the usage of 720p even as an "up to" is not proper language, e.g. accuracy claims against this are viable. However that said, being short a couple hundred pixels of resolution likely will not hamper the user experience much on such a small screen, so this is accuracy nitpicking against a specific numeric claim.

2) Misrepresenting the ability of Mobile Safari and iPad to display Flash player content of any type.

This issue is a big one. The iPhone OS is nice enough for a phone, but its not enabled by Apple to run Flash in the Mobile Safari Browser.

At this time the iPad cannot accomplish the task of rendering flash plugins in its Mobile Safari, by edict of Apple Inc. When caught on this, they blame flash as though inclusion of it will be a problem, much in a "Tail Wagging The Dog" kind of way in association with a claim that the iPad has the best browsing experience. It doesnt. But they display webpages with flash content intact as though there is no visible problem.

Shown above is the New York times rendered in a video frame - an average gallery tool found all over the web, incorrectly displays a food dish to the left done in flash , and then corrected as a "blue block" missing plugin to the right. This correction was required but only performed after repeated observations of thousands of bloggers. It was improperly shown on the website for a few days and still persists in places. There were 4 additional instances of other images and video blocks that inproperly showed flash content. They had to know this, hence it was deliberate.

This is not a "best" user experience, its a plain and evident broken plug-in hole in the webpage of a famous and high profile New York Times website as rendered by an incapable browser.

See below what you can do with that if you can edit your webpages.

3) Claiming that HTML5 can replace Flash as a rich media delivery system, and that it is an Open Standard.
This is False in too many ways to mention in detail here -- but importantly ... it is in fact not a finalized standard. HTML5 finalized reference Open Standard will likely be completed well after product release of iPad, but the story is a case of functionality tunnel-vision with respect to Video Playback in a webpage.
What they are really referring to is use of the <video src=somefile.mp4 > video play tag. Only Safari and Google chrome currently support this tag for the mp4 that Apple referrs to, and neither completely support HTM5 canvas features in a way even remotely as capable as Flash Technology.

This is deceptive in that only a web developer with both knowlege of HTML5 and Flash would be capable of really understanding the implications. The average user and Apple customer-base does not have this know-how, and therefore has to accept this mis-representation on faith, one way or the other.

4) Claiming that Flash Player use in mobile devices will cut battery life from "10 hours to 1.5 hours" -- with no proof, verification or demonstration that the iPad can even run Flash Plugins. The moment they sell unit 1 and deposit the proceeds, they will have violated law if they do not comply with any requests for proof by any customer.

Possibly this claim can be labled as anecdotal since it does not specifically appear in marketing official Apple released and copywritten publications, but reporting on this statement by Steve Jobs is widespread enough to create issues.

This kind of claim is the type that the FTC can easily take to court on, since "proof of claim" is written in law both at the federal level and defined with even greater clarity at State Levels with regard to Mail Fraud laws. (Note... this includes any Print advertising that uses postal services, magazines and newspapers )

For mobile devices, a feature of serious importance is battery longevity, so this is dangerous and the most egregious of all the deceptive and unproven marketing being done. I have lived through this "product feature description claim" legal contents and contests in other businesses, and was surprised at how far reaching and serious it can get, its more than just bad form. Its legal.

In point of fact Android and Palm WebOS are proving that quite the opposite battery life effects are likely, but that is also a moot point without lab quality testing and independent mensuration and verification. The difficulty here is in how this is playing out is that this appears to mislabel another company as producing a faulty product and defining any functionality and performance in numeric terms without proof of claim, and that is a workable case when measurable difference in profitablility of any kind can be established, good bad or otherwise. Its the same as a false claim of higher than real performance in a product marketing process.

5) AT&T Coverage.
I cannot talk with many urban friends now that have iPhones. Conversations break so often that they no longer get included in my deals. 'nuff Said.

At Stake: Billions.

If Apple sells 1 million tablets at 500 bucks then basically half a billion is removed from the economy in a way that has marginal defined productive value. Like TV and Music, its an information flow that does not build value.. until you look at the next step in all this. a Huge Cloud-Based data center that users will pay 99 bucks a year to store and protect their stuff, exchange info like family photos, etc. And of course renovate the concepts of an APP STORE to a STORE YOUR APPS paradigm. The Apple Walled Garden so to speak, comes with a high price but does deliver Apple-approved content to Apple supplied devices in ways accurately defined in the Apple Terms of Agreement.

Thanks for reading - Helen Bach
( edits for terminology by HD1080i )