Say That Again

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
advertising, truth in advertising


Apple: It's Not Like Anyone Believes What We Advertise...

from the great-defenses dept

With Apple getting smacked down in the UK for misleading advertising, it appears the company is also facing a variety of similar challenges on the homefront. However, Apple tried a rather odd defense in a similar case. After first claiming that everything in its ads was accurate, the company also noted that any reasonable person would know not to believe what they saw in the ad anyway:
"Plaintiff's claims, and those of the purported class, are barred by the fact that the alleged deceptive statements were such that no reasonable person in Plaintiff's position could have reasonably relied on or misunderstood Apple's statements as claims of fact."
I could see that argument making sense for extreme and over-the-top demonstrations, but somehow it seems unlikely to fly in this particular case.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    DS, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 5:13am


    They do have a point. Anyone who's not an Apple fanboy does not take apples statements as "claims of fact".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Just Me, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 5:17am

    " reasonable person... could have reasonably relied on or misunderstood Apple's statements as claims of fact."

    Isn't that the point of advertising laws? I know that all ads are going to be suggestive and many will try to fool you into thinking they're claiming something they are not but to out and out say "you shouldn't expect to believe an ad" seems like an awfully slippery slope.
    If that were accepted in court wouldn't that open the floodgates for advertisers to say whatever they want in an ad?
    If that becomes the case then I have a wonderful cure for cancer I'd love to sell you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anon, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 5:22am


    After reading the article, and understanding the claims Apple made, the suit is frivolous. 3G is twice as fast as Edge, which is part of what everyone is complaining about: They can't get 3G everywhere. That's an AT&T problem, as are most of the the complaints listed, such as dropped calls or poor reception. Apple's big mistake was going AT&T only. They thought that would improve service, but they hooked up with the wrong company.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    REB, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 5:28am

    Re: Well...

    Shouldn't the Apple fanboys be protected from this own misguided faith?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Jack Sombra, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 5:29am

    I must be stupid then, I believed the iphone was a fast as they claimed, as I had never really seen one in action

    Lucky enough I did some research first and found out the claims were false, thus never bought one

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    VCM, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 5:40am


    How do you define a reasonable person. There are too many people out there who are tech illiterates and will likely believe the ads. Think of all the people only know enough to turn on their computer and get there email. What will they believe when they see the ads and think the next time they stumble into an infection.

    Think of all the people who have been hit with the "Antivirus 2009" malware. I personally know very reasonable people who are very intelligent in other fields who have been convinced to click on the popup and become infected.

    Most of the people I speak with who use Macs insist that they are immune from infection and that is why they use them.

    Once Macs have a large enough market share there will be more viri, trojans, and malware written to compromise the system. You cannot rely on software or hardware to protect yourself. The only way to be safe it to learn and maintain safe habits while using you personal computer, whoever manufactured it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Ted McClure, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 6:00am


    The issue of how much inflation an advertisement can have before it is considered deceptive has been around for a long time. "Puffing" is a defense to claims of deception, the practice of using exaggerated language to draw attention to a product. In consumer contexts, we often see the comparative form of an adjective used without a referent. For example, something may be described as "bigger" or "better" without saying what it is "bigger" or "better" than. However, it is not a question of logic or grammar, but a question of what the intended audience "reasonably" can be expected to rely on in making a decision to buy. Of course, you can drive a truck through the hole made by "reasonably". We let a jury decide.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    IT Dude, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 6:15am

    Mac sucks

    No reasonable person would own any mac products

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 6:40am

    Re: Ridiculous

    They didn't think it'd improve service. Originally it was the only company to give Apple a cut of their subscription fees. Apple went that route originally because of wanting money. They then stayed longer because AT&T paid them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 6:43am

    Re: Ridiculous

    Even in full service 3G, it is nowhere near twice as fast. I've owned one since the beginning of August and I've yet to experience anything even remotely close to the speeds it advertises and I live near NYC (i can actually physically see it) so its not like I live in the middle of nowhere. Granted, I'd never sue Apple over it, but it was a vast disappointment and there "half the price" needs some fine print too. Mine cost $500. They always leave off that its retail price is *not* half the price. If you qualify for the discount, THEN its half the price.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    iPhone User, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 6:43am

    Bad Apple

    The UK 3G iPhone ads were very misleading. Not so fast as to be clearly some sort of simulation but faster than real life.

    Every time I saw the ad I'd comment that my 3G iPhone wasn't that fast - it still didn't occur to me that Apple had just faked the usage they were showing. It did say something like "performance will vary with network", which is a little different from "we've edited this to speed it up".

    I disagree with any notion that what they showed in the UK was obviously a demonstration of the capabilites but not of the speed. The whole ad was based on the "speed" of the new phone.

    Still - Apple managed to get it run for months before having its wrist slapped so job(s) done.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    James, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 7:17am


    I couldn't afford a myPod so I got a set of myPhonies instead :-P

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    TDR, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 7:29am


    As I've said before, it wouldn't matter if Macs got a larger market share, they'd still be more secure. This is because the underlying architechture is built differently than that upon which Windows is based - the Mac architecture was designed from the ground up to be more secure and more difficult to penetrate. It handles file storage differently as well, more efficiently, thus on a Mac there is no need for defragging, disk scanning or any other typical PC maintenance tasks. Same for Linux systems.

    I've used both systems - PC at home and Mac at work (I'm a graphic designer) - and both have their strong points. But overall, the Mac runs smoother and gives me less headaches. It does what it's supposed to do without any fuss and stays out of my way.

    I don't have an iPhone, btw, nor have I had a huge interest in it. I'm not on the go enough to need it - my regular phone does just fine. Though I still don't understand why, with all the features the iPhone has, you can't take a decent picture with it or email said pictures. A simple feature, really, which makes no sense for it not to be there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 7:56am

    My favorite is the one with the Apple guy talking to the Microsoft guy and how the guy is taking all the money out of the R&D pile and putting it all in the advertising pile. Then the Apple guy says why don't you just make Windows better instead of advertising more.

    Funny thing is, I see way more ads from Apple than I do from Microsoft.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 8:34am


    Perhaps however microsoft outspent Apple by a large margin with their most recent $300 million campaign.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Shohat, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 8:52am

    Re: Re:

    They didn't

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    interval, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 9:00am

    Re: Ridiculous

    True dat. I hate AT&T and will never use them as my carrier. Still, Apple made the claims. Apple should either stand behind those claims, or not make them. This is only one small example of what I see as a complete lack of integrity in our culture as a whole. Used to be that people were proud to be honest. Now back peddling, excuses, blaming the other guy, out and out lies, are the norm. What a shallow, shitty society. Sometimes I think militant islam has a point...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    interval, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 9:04am

    Re: Mac sucks

    Never have, never will. I've never owned an iPod, I use a little known little mp3 player that no one's ever heard of, and it works great. Never owned a Mac, I always use Linux. Never looked to get an iPhone. The only thing I ever felt I was missing out on was that mindless, false sense of elitism. It took them until only a handful of years ago to realize their crappy Motorola hardware was slower than the Intel based PC? Come on...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    interval, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 9:13am

    Re: Re:VCM

    HA HA HA HA!!! Give ONE LINK, one BIT of factual evidence that Mac os is inherently more secure than any other OS, ESPECIALLY LINUX. Macs seem more secure only becuase there are fewer of them out, making them a smaller target. There's nothing in the internals making macs more secure than any other os, Not One Thing. Excpet this: some of the internals of the old PowerPC line were so old and obscure there was no way for modern virii makers to exploit. I've seen the old mac os 7, 8 source. There was some pretty obfuscated and crufty code in that old "kernel". Could you even call that clump of crud a kernel? Oh, and write a driver for that stuff. I dare you. First, you'll notice virii vectors a-plenty. Next, you'll find that api confusing, almost completely state-based (useless for multi-threading) and nearly documentless.

    Nowadays you have X, which is based on an amalgam of the ANCIENT BSDLite code line, and some other Unix-like MACH kernel. I would hardly call that bleeding edge code. I don't know if its any less secure than any other os, but MORE? You're off your rocker pal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 9:32am

    PWN 2 OWN over: MacBook Air gets seized in 2 minutes flat

    Right, more secure, I'll remember that, I can't wait till hackers decide to put these Mac fanboys in their place and make a nasty virus for Macs that shut them all down.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Greg, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 9:35am

    Re: Well...

    Too many non-Apple Fanboys take those ads seriously. I work as a 3d artist and every time I tell someone what I do they ask "Oh so you must love Macs." Mac's are not better than Pc's at 3d. Furthermore, during the past 5-8 years they have not been any better at 2d either. The only thing that makes them relevant are their beautiful monitors, which with some careful shopping you can by for a pc anyway at half the total cost.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Senator, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 9:59am

    No different then Switcher ads.

    Apple can get away with this stuff because their users love Apple so much. It's great for everyone making money from Apple but their users are in a fantasy world. I second Anonymous Coward's comments about the ad money. Also their new ad toting the new eco-friendly aluminum cases on their laptops. What a joke since when is plastic not recyclable? So they don't use mercury in their product, but the coating on the system boards are the same as other machines. And that is harmful to the earth. What about the batteries? It isn't like their laptops can be put into compost pile. It is all just justification for an over priced under powered machine. I wish I could tell half truths and make millions off the fanboy masses too. But I just can justify the turtleneck.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    accountant, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 10:13am

    Apple is stupid because:

    -They put out attack adds like politicians (i.e. ripping MSFT for deciding to advertise even though the amount MSFT spent on it is just barely more than the increase in search ad. revenue of $283MM from 07 to 08 to date)

    -They claim they're so safe and yet the recently began recommending users install antivirus software.

    -They can only have one certain type of hardware you can use in your computer and it's overpriced.

    -It's widely known that Steve Jobs is possibly the world's largest douche.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    d, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 10:29am

    Re: Ridiculous

    There have been extensive tests that in FULL AT&T 3G coverage, the iphone is much slower than advertised, with regards to not only network speeds, but interface changes and GPS location as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    perceptron, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 11:11am

    issue of perception

    While I believe that ads (in general) are about selling ideals not actuality there are specific cases where misrepresenting the product is going to bite you in the ass.

    Apple is selling the phone based on the speed of the device and network. Since both of them are no where near as fast as shown on the ad they should be forced to say such ( I have noticed that the US ads now say something like sequence shortened).

    Yes people should expect some BS in their ads but if you are selling observable improvement you have to show actual speed or at least side by side comparisons of the old vs the new.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    AHHH, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Ridiculous

    yes dropped calls and slow internet CAN be problems of the phone not just the network... i have had a few shoddy phones, ericson, LG, both with horrible reception, and dropped calls. Switced to Nokia and have never looked back... (all this on ATT's 3G network)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    TDR, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 9:05am

    Ah, but VCM I don't see you giving any links, either, so your argument falls flat. Bottom line, you shoulnd't have to have 2GB or more or RAM just so your OS runs at decent speed - Windows has always been more bloated than the alternatives. And worse at true multitasking. Try opening several resource-heavy programs - such as Photoshop, Illustrator, or any high end 3d graphcis program - all at once and see if the PC doesn't choke. And when I say all at once, I don't mean just having them open at the same time. I mean OPENING them at the same time, so that they are in fact both starting up simultaneously. Macs handle that flawlessly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    BTR1701, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 9:26am

    Re: But..

    > How do you define a reasonable person?

    This is how a judge famously defined it:

    "He is an ideal, a standard, the embodiment of all those qualities which we demand of the good citizen ... [he] invariably looks where he is going, ... is careful to examine the immediate foreground before he executes a leap or bound; ... neither stargazes nor is lost in meditation when approaching trapdoors or the margins of a dock; ... never mounts a moving [bus] and does not alight from any car while the train is in motion, ... uses nothing except in moderation, and even flogs his child in meditating only on the golden mean."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    Zuke, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 4:13pm

    I guess this is the same defense that can be used for Apple's "It Just Works" claim.

    Those arrogant tards have cajones the size of bowling balls.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    Horace, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 8:05am

    The claim would make more sense if they hadn't previously claimed the exact opposite. The fact of the matter is that Macs need antivirus just as much as any other platform, even if the reasons for the need may not be the exact same, there is certainly more than a fair amount of overlap.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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