Towards the end of his life, there was a moment at an All Things D conference where Steve Jobs was explaining his bullishness on iPads. He was going on about how “customers are smart,” and if Apple just makes a seductively simple, useful tablet that consumers like, they’ll buy them. “And if they don’t (like them), they wont.”
Almost a decade has passed since then, and here come a set of new ads that Apple released today focused on different things you can do with an iPad. Ads — there are four of them, 15 seconds each — whose very existence suggests Apple is still trying to figure out the right messaging to convince you what an iPad is good for. And ultimately, how to convince you to buy one.
There’s a bouncy electronic beat as a soundtrack for all four spots. In one, a camera pans across a row of airplane passengers crammed together. The iPad user soldiers blissfully on, comfortably getting work done.
The other spots focus on notes, “stuff” and paperwork. The Apple Pencil is also featured prominently in each ad.
The four new ads all follow the same format. On overhead camera pans slowly across, starting on a frenzy of activity before making its way to a calm, sublime iPad user.
In the ad focused on “stuff”, we see people rushing to cram items into bags, while the iPad user gives the impression that all of those physical things are on this person’s tablet. In the “notes” spot, we pan across desks, book bags at the students’ feet, as they plop notebooks and folders crammed with paper down in front of them. Again, we end at the iPad, where the user is blissfully swiping and drawing away on the screen.
The tldr version of the ads: iPads are versatile and laptop-like in their convenience. Most people arguably still don’t see them as full-fledged laptop replacements, which is why Apple keeps beating this messaging drum. That, for many users with basic needs, an iPad — whether it’s the 9.7-inch model or the iPad Pro – can be everything you need in a laptop.
The iPad, by the way, was first released eight years ago now, which is another reason these new ads seem to come at an interesting time. You’d probably be hard pressed to find someone today unfamiliar with Apple’s tablet — so what does it say about them that we have to keep being reminded how much time and space they can save us?