Lies, damned lies, and Apple's new marketing strategy

By Nathaniel Mott , written on March 18, 2013

From The News Desk

Ah, yes, another incendiary headline about Apple's latest marketing push. The Cupertino-based company granted interviews with its marketing chief, Phil Schiller, to the Wall Street Journal and Reuters before the Samsung Galaxy S4's announcement, and introduced a "Why iPhone" page on its website shortly after. Schiller and Apple were described as "on the defensive" and "blasting" Android and Samsung, which makes for a good sound-byte, but there's a bigger problem: Apple has just been wrong.

Android smartphones are infamous for their slow upgrade cycles, "And that extends to the news we are hearing this week that the Samsung Galaxy S4 is being rumored to ship with an OS that is nearly a year old," Schiller told Reuters. "Customers will have to wait to get an update." Ooh, them's fightin' words!

But Schiller was wrong. The Galaxy S4 will ship with Android "Jelly Bean" 4.2.2, the latest version of Google's operating system. An interview with Apple's marketing chief is rare -- an interview where he parrots a rumor, knowing full well that the assertion could be proven wrong not long after the interview went live, is unheard of.

Still, people can be wrong. It's natural. Normal, even. It's worse when they flat-out lie.

In a section talking up the Retina Display on the new "Why iPhone" page, Apple's marketing team writes that Apple "ushered in the era of super-high-resolution displays," which is true; that its "pixel density is so high, your eye can’t distinguish individual pixels," which is debatable; and that "it remains a feature found only on iPhone and other Apple products," which is something less than truthful.

Handset makers have surpassed the iPhone's Retina Display before. Here's just a sampling of recently-released devices compared against the iPhone 5's pixel density:

(Bigger bars are better.)

Though the iPhone did kickstart the ultra-high resolution screen trend, the iPhone's screen is no longer best-in-class, at least so far as pixel density is concerned. (There are other factors, such as color accuracy and brightness, but I'm addressing the pixel density issue.) Unless Apple's marketing team hasn't heard of, seen, used, or Googled any of these other devices, the company has knowingly misrepresented the iPhone's display.

Tech companies seem to be growing increasingly aggressive in their marketing efforts. Samsung has been inflammatory for the last few years -- which may have contributed to the Galaxy line's rise to dominance -- and Microsoft has picked up its own rhetoric with the "Scroogled" ad campaign against Gmail. HTC crashed the Galaxy S4's launch event at the Radio City Music Hall with hot chocolate for attendees, and BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins has smack-talked the iPhone despite BlackBerry's position in the market.

It isn't surprising, then, that Apple has gotten more direct in its efforts against Samsung (and, to a lesser extent, Android). A few months ago the marketing trend was inviting a celebrity to a launch event to have them shill a product -- it seems that now it's become fashionable to get down and dirty.