Apple's ads let products speak for themselves

To avid Apple watchers, the company's latest ad for the iPad 2 isn't really anything new: It eschews celebrity endorsements, outrageous claims, and pretty young things that tweak your atavistic impulses in favor of simply showing the product in use.

Over the last few years, the vast majority of Apple's iPhone ads have taken the same tack, usually showing little more than a disembodied hand tapping and swiping. As such, the spots act as a sort of stand-in manual: By demonstrating the device onscreen, the commercials ensure that when customers eventually do pick up an iPhone, they already know how to use it. With the iPad, Apple has again taken a similar approach, letting its products speak for themselves.

, followed by a transcription of the voiceover.

This is what we believe: Technology alone is not enough. Faster, thinner, lighter--those are all good things. But when technology gets out of the way, everything becomes more delightful--even magical. That's when you leap forward. That's when you end up with this.

To those who view these things with the skepticism that so often results from our culture's perpetual marketing blitz, the above might come off as nothing more than sentimental hogwash. And I certainly won't waste time or breath arguing that it's not a message crafted to sell you something--it's advertising, after all.

But Apple's ads are an oddity in a field that often prizes the big and flashy over simple and elegant. Too often, advertisements are designed to distract, to misdirect like a trained illusionist. It's not about how the drink tastes, it's about what it'll do for your social life. It's not about what the device does, it's about the specs. Apple, on the other hand, designs its advertising with the same care and attention that it lavishes on its products.