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The iEmpire Strikes Back

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First, Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI  ) called Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) users iSheep. Now, it's payback time. The Mac maker has released an ad that comes dangerously close to mocking those not hip enough to hop aboard the iTrain.

"If you don't have an iPhone, well, you don't have an iPhone." And, you're not cool. In fact, you're a loser. Cue awful junior high school memories. I'm not in with the hip crowd! Gaaaahhhhh!

It'd be insulting if I weren't already an iPhone owner. Actually, you know what? It's still insulting. And more than a little presumptuous. Apple is acting as if my 3G somehow defines me.


Look, Steve, I love your products. But I also run Windows 7 on my Mac and do most of my communicative work using Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) cloud computing tools. The Mac OS happens to be my preferred computing environment, that's all.

To be fair, Motorola's ad was every bit as mocking and presumptuous as Apple's infamous "I'm a Mac" ads that skewered Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) and Windows. The difference is that Moto lacks the market validation to play snooty with users and get away with it. Apple doesn't have that problem.

Even so, there's a risk to attacking Android in this way. By tying the iPhone's edge to apps and the App Store, Apple is ceding control of its competitive positioning to developers who are piling onto the Android bandwagon.

Check the numbers. In November of 2009, there were just 17,000 apps in the Android Market. Today, reports differ on how many apps are active, but reports more than 250,000 accumulated apps for Android. In December, Apple confirmed hosting more than 300,000 active apps in the App Store, but clearly the gap has narrowed.

And while Apple has spent ample effort making the iOS design clean and the App Store secure and easy to use, it would be folly to claim Android doesn't have advantages.

Newly released tests conducted by site acceleration specialist Blaze Software found that Google's Nexus S smartphone running Android 2.3 was 50% faster at loading common Web pages than an iPhone 4 running iOS 4.3, Computerworld reports.

Apple's tone is understandable. Not only did Moto strike first, but mockery has also worked in the past. Why not go with what you know? Still, with Android surging, this latest iPhone ad feels like an odd mixture of overreaching and denial.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think about the new iPhone ad, the apps arms race, and whether Android offers a compelling alternative to the iOS using the comments box below.

You can also rate Apple in Motley Fool CAPS and keep tabs on the company by adding the stock to the My Watchlist tool, our free, personalized stock tracking service.

Google and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Motley Fool Options has recommended members open a bull call spread position in Apple and a diagonal call position in Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft and has written Apple puts. The Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy is too big for the Ad Man.

Read/Post Comments (13) | Recommend This Article (7)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2011, at 12:34 PM, humb1962 wrote:

    True to be told Android phones are no small thing but at the end of the day if you don't have an iPhone you don't have an iPhone simple as that...

    and here some facts

    android 250k apple more than 350k and always get the best and secure ones first

    Apple has paid more than 2 billion to developers android not even close

    android faster than iOS yes but who cares about a secon or so.

    Like I said Android is good but the iOS experience is far ahead.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2011, at 12:48 PM, monkeywit wrote:

    The test showing webpage loading speed was done by Blaze, who have agreed to redo the tests after being informed by Apple that their methodology was flawed. We'll have wait on that one.

    It is your interpretation what Apple means with their ads. A lot of food ads talk about the real McCoy, or ask for it by name. GM tells us to buy real GM parts. Pharma tells us not to buy generics. Insurance brands sell trust. Cool doesn't always come into it. There's also ease of use, customer service and reliability at play here, 3 areas where Apple wins again and again.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2011, at 12:50 PM, ViewRoyal wrote:

    Tim, I've seen the new iPhone ads, and they don't appear to be directed at any particular company or operating system. It's not focused on Android or Motorola, but just compares the iPhone to all others generally (Android, Windows Phone 7, Web OS, etc.).

    On thing that I appreciate about Apple's advertising for iPhone, iPad, and iPods... all of the ads actually demonstrate these products being used functionally.

    In contrast, most other mobile phones and tablets are advertised using unrelated graphics and special effects, but not showing the product in real use.

    Apple's advertising is meaningful and educates the consumer about the actual product (hardware and software). In comparison, other product ads (example: the Motorola Droid ads) are merely fluff.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2011, at 12:55 PM, ViewRoyal wrote:

    Regarding the Blaze Software proclamations, their testing was flawed.

    Actually, Safari on iOS is much faster than Android's browser:

    Blaze used an older, slower version of Safari... not the current fast version that is in iOS 4.3:

    From LoopInsight:

    "The problem with using UIWebView is that, even though it’s based on Safari, it didn’t receive any of the updates that Safari did in iOS 4.3. Using an embedded browser is not the same as using the official browser.

    Apple’s Safari Web browser included the Nitro JavaScript engine that Apple said runs JavaScript up to twice as fast as its predecessor. Since UIWebView didn’t include any of those enhancements, it’s kind of disingenuous to say that Android beat Safari."

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2011, at 1:19 PM, iamtellingu wrote:

    Disagree, because you didn't mention how many of Android apps are Trojan virus apps! The answer is :Tons! LOL...

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2011, at 2:25 PM, hornydude wrote:

    I like ur article....right on the money...I own aapl not own anything else aapl....would not

    after ur article.....thanks

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2011, at 2:34 PM, catoismymotor wrote:

    hornydude, you have all your AAPLs in one basket?

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2011, at 3:37 PM, Emperor2 wrote:

    I just followed the link in your article to the Apple ad and I sure didn't come away with the same impression you got. The tag line of, "If you don't own an iPhone, well, you don't own an iPhone" is not mocking or insulting. All it is doing is stating a fact. I don't own an iPhone. You did not approach this ad from an objective, analytical mindset. Go back and look at it again. If you feel insulted again, you have a problem.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2011, at 4:50 PM, rfaramir wrote:

    Cato, I think hornydude was saying he owns the stock, but no Apple products. And after this article wouldn't buy any, all because of this article.

    Such homage to the power of a journalist! Then again, his textspeak may be reeking of sarcasm, so who knows what he's really trying to say.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2011, at 7:11 PM, ruastar2b wrote:

    If you don't have an Android, well, you don't have an Android.

    And if you are using Android Apps, there's no-one who follows up with glitches because the operating system is free to all users. There's no financial incentive for anyone to take care of bugs.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2011, at 9:25 PM, TMFMileHigh wrote:


    >>And if you are using Android Apps, there's no-one who follows up with glitches because the operating system is free to all users. There's no financial incentive for anyone to take care of bugs.

    Except Google, which already did:

    Thanks for the comments, all. I appreciate them, even if I don't buy the argument that there's no profit motive to develop on Android.

    Certainly iOS developers have made more because of the sheer volume of iPhones out there. With Android growing, I expect the market for paid apps to ramp up nicely and reward developers in the process.

    Put differently: what you can say about Android today regarding lack of support, tools, etc. is similar to what you could have said about Linux only a few years ago. Today, Red Hat is thriving.

    Foolish best,

    Tim (TMFMileHigh and @milehighfool on Twitter)

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2011, at 10:34 AM, racchole wrote:

    When we are all on our death beds, it will be the ones who used up so much energy debating 'Apple vs. competitors' wondering why they even bothered to waste their time.

    I still own a Blackberry Pearl 8100 and it works perfectly, and I never had to bother wasting one second of my time wondering which cell phone to stick in my pocket. Every app is pretty much useless and aims only for convenience, not necessity (its a suckers world). The consumer population needs to get over themselves and realize that Apple isn't the only company in the world nor do we actually need Apple to make these unbelievably money-vacuum products.

    All I want to hear about on these message

    boards is how AAPL's products or other products will affect stock prices. Any other discussion is out of place.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2011, at 2:54 PM, jargonsays wrote:

    Maybe this advertisement was aimed at young people. My limited but first hand experience suggests that they prefer iphone over android, and I know I've seen some statistics recently that bear this out. This large cohort of app buying teens is the future. They know nothing about the 80s and 90s mac vs PC debate that still rages in forums like this one, unless their parents impose it on them. It is highly unlikely that they will change ecosystems unless something revolutionary comes by.

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