Apple debuts new iPad Air ad highlighting real users' stories

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Expanding upon the "Life on iPad" video released at the launch of iPad Air, Apple has created a second spot profiling real use cases of its tablets, ranging from scientific exploration to medicine, music, filmmaking and sports.

The new ad, titled "Your Verse," features a voiceover by Robin Williams reciting a monologue from the movie "Dead Poets Society." The passage highlights "poetry, beauty, romance, love; the are what we stay alive for" and the "powerful play" of life of which Walt Whitman wrote "you may contribute a verse."

Accompanying the words, which conclude with "what will your verse be?" the video depicts a wide variety of human pursuits that make use of an iPad Air.

iCloud Atlas

The "Your Verse" ad starts with a reference to the giant windmills in the previous "Life on iPad," first shown last October.

It then rapidly shifts to scenes depicting storm chasing climatologists, then mountain explorers, then filmmakers in Bollywood, then the remote capture of footage of a waterfall, then an exploration of Gaudi's La Sagrada Família cathedral, then a performer applying makeup, then boys exploring the woods, then the LA Kings analyzing their performance on an iPad, then a marching band practicing choreography, then musicians playing live.

As the message of the words begins to sink in, the stories of all these brief clips unfold as use cases for iPad.

A man tapping out a screenplay on an iPad is revealed to be a parking lot attendant moonlighting as a storyteller in his spare time. The storm chasers were tracking the storm via an app. The boys in the forest are identifying a praying mantis. A father is using an iPad app to help his daughter build an interactive Mindstorms robot. The cathedral was inspiration for a woman's art.

Underwater, a marine biologist is measuring a reef using an iPad within a waterproof iDive housing. The performer is a traditional Japanese Butoh dancer practicing in front of a assistant filming his movements on, of course, an iPad.

What will your verse be?

"We're humbled and inspired by what people do with iPad. So we set out to capture some of their stories. What will your verse be?," Apple states on its YouTube page for the ad. The comment links to Apple's own "Your Verse" page detailing some of the stories captured in the spot.

The Bollywood filmmaker is Feroz Khan of Agra, India. The live performance is Yao, a rock band in Beijing, China, tapping out beats via iPad. A classroom in Humla, Nepal is using "School in a Box," a solar powered education toolkit for iPad designed to teach children living in places that lack electricity.

The waterfall is being filmed by Josh Apter, on location in Iguazu Falls, Argentina using custom camera gear built around iPad. The LA Kings are using the ThunderCloud iBench app to analyze their hockey players' moves and the team's overall game strategy.

As John Paczkowski observed for the new re/code, "it's hard to look at all these various iPad use cases and not conclude that the iPad and other devices like it are having a transformative effect on our culture. Certainly, that's the argument Apple is making here."

No contrived nonsense about phony users

The new ad and web page depict real users, not imagined ones. That's relatively easy for Apple to do because iPad and its iOS platform is actually being used around the world by tens of millions of real people to do real tasks.

In stark contrast, Google's Nexus 7 ad portrays a boy asking the search giant what "glossophobia" is, as if a boy who knew that word would need to request its definition.

A second Nexus 7 ad imagines a worker on a ship "far from home" who rushes to clean up after his shift so he can look presentable to his family while performing a high resolution and highly emotional video call that would simply be impossible to connect from a ship on the high seas, where the sort of high speed Internet that Google's engineers (and apparently their advertising directors) take for granted doesn't exist.

Google has to invent users because it's not actually selling its Nexus tablets to a broad audience; the tablet's actual manufacturer, Asus, is struggling to sell tablets as desperately as it's struggling with hardware and software bugs. That makes Google's portrayal of phony use cases for its tablets is as phony as Asus' benchmark doping.

Up is down

The phoniness of Google's contrived ads (something that's certainly not in short supply in the tech industry) was also reflected in the condescending reaction to Apple's latest spot authored by Darrell Etherington for TechCrunch, who wrote, "it's no secret that Apple wants to push the creative aspect of its mobile devices, which are still seen largely as consumption gadgets."

He also made reference to "the perceived superiority of Apple tablets," as if Apple's unit sales and usage stats are both contrived fictions the company is seeking to promote in its ads, rather than being grounded in fact.

The very idea that Apple needs to "push the the creative aspect of its mobile devices" is silly; but the contradictory reason cited (that the public sees iPad as a "consumption gadget") is as laughable as the notion that iPads are merely a "consumption device," a ridiculous meme invented and repeated by Apple's critics to suggest that the tablet failures of the company's competitors are somehow more serious for work.

The tone deaf, completely clueless knee-jerk reaction scribbled out by Etherington originally included an observation that even the words recited in Apple's spot were "a terrible poem by the way," unaware that its source was Walt Whitman, one of America's most influential poets.