A few days ago, Intel released a series of video adverts on YouTube, everyone’s favorite platform to while away time. They are titled “Justin Gets Real”, biggest achievement of these ads may just be that they’ve managed to get the former star of Apple’s “I’m a Mac” ads, Justin Long on board. In the firing line was Apple, specifically the Apple MacBook range. There is a website too, which details these claims in easy-to-read format with lots of infographics, if wasting time and bandwidth on YouTube isn’t your thing. The claims that Intel makes are simple enough—that Intel processor powered laptops made by the likes of Dell, HP, Acer, Asus and others, offer more than the new Apple MacBook Pro 13 and the Apple MacBook Air, powered by the Apple M1 chips.
It seems users are seeing through the desperate attempt. While this is absolutely not a scientific method in any way, a quick look at the response to these adverts on YouTube does give an idea that the strategy isn’t working too well for Intel. The “Justin Gets Real: Having Choices” video has around 5,000 likes and around 10,000 dislikes. You may find the timing curious, but you really shouldn’t. Intel’s happy partnership with Apple which lasted as long as 15 years, is beginning to end. It seems a case of desperation, because on the face of it, Intel was happily hopping along with Apple for that time, but now starts finding faults in the MacBook series the moment its chips are dropped by Apple. similarly, the “Justin Gets Real: 2-in-1 Flexibility” advert sees 3.6K likes and 7.6K dislikes, at the time of writing this. The “Justin Gets Real: PC Gaming” advert has currently clocked 3.5K likes and 5.9K dislikes. And so on. And if you think the likes don’t really tell the whole tale, user comments aren’t holding back either. “This is what happens when a company invest in pseudo marketing instead of R&D,” writes a user rgarcia071 in one of the videos. “Intel makes touchscreen laptops now? No. No they don’t. They just advertised someone else’s product,” points out a user Eric Shinn, and quite correctly so. “What intel isn’t saying is that they actually power every mac but 2 models. They’re salty over this, I don’t want to see how salty they’ll be in 2022 when Apple is officially done with them,” wonders Sylvan Prey-Harbaugh. Among a lot of comments that also invoke Intel’s rivalry with AMD, which is on the upwards curve with their new Ryzen chips, a user LidlWiFi 2.0 summarizes it, “This is literally Intel admitting they’re being tag teamed by AMD and Apple right now.” Last but not least, among the thousands of comments, is this one from Homemade 102, “Apple is laughing knowing that Intel is terrified and desperate.” Some are even pointing out flaws in the ads, such as Justin picking up a PC he has never used before and unlocking it with face recognition.
I’ll quickly summarize what the ads say, as they rekindle the PC vs Mac debate once again. Basically, what Intel has is a checklist for you, a checklist of what its ecosystem devices have and therefore believes those features are important. Intel says that the Apple M1 chips don’t translate the claims into real world performance, Apple doesn’t offer touchscreens in the MacBook devices, claims some Intel processor powered machines offer better battery life too and selectively picks some usage scenarios to claim Intel processors perform better than the Apple M1. Intel also says that Macs aren’t really seen as gaming devices, cite M1’s lack of multi-monitor support, mock Apple MacBook Touch Bar and calling the colour choices “grey and greyer”.
The reality of the selective arguments and let us illustrate that with a real-world example here, is quite interesting as you see it unfolding. You spend around Rs 92,900 for an Apple MacBook Air with the M1 chip—and you get what is the fastest performing machine in the ultraportable space, by far. No touchscreen mind you. Let us take what is perhaps the best that Intel has to offer in that space in conjunction with Microsoft for the Windows 10 operating system and various PC makers. You’ll be spending around Rs 1,01,990 for a significantly lower performance of the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 (a 10th generation Intel Core i5 processor and 13.5-inch touch display). The Microsoft Surface Pen, mind you, costs around Rs 9,500 additionally—Intel does point out Apple MacBook needs “extra devices and gear required”. The new Dell XPS 13 (9310) has prices starting upwards of Rs 1,49,990 for an 11th generation Intel Core i5 processor. The HP Spectre x360 convertible 13 is priced upwards of Rs 1,14,999. Intel specifically mentions the Acer Swift 5 with the Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor and claims it offers better battery life—that is priced at Rs 1,24,999 and if you’re lucky, you could get enough deals to get this down to Rs 99,999. And we have always had people say Apple’s products are expensive. There is perception, and there is reality.
The Intel and Apple separation started in the summer of 2020, when Apple announced that they’ll be switching all Mac computing devices to their own Apple Silicon chips, replacing the Intel Core processors. According to numbers, the first generation M1 chips are 3.5x faster than the Intel chips they replace in the Apple MacBook Air. And 2.8x faster than the Intel chips in the Apple MacBook Pro. Those performance improvements in the world of computing devices, pretty much means the second best is pretty much being left standing still. In fact, the MacBook Air is faster than 98 percent of PC laptops sold in the last year, according to Apple. But for a company like Intel, the response shouldn’t be coming on YouTube. And the scoop being they poached the “I’m a Mac” guy. The response should be with the hardware, the chips taking a significant leap forward in terms of performance. But then again, that is exactly what Intel’s problem has been, which has also seen rivals AMD swoop in and take a sizeable share of the PC market.