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A nice computer for a drab office.
SQUARE HOLE ROUND PEG

Apple’s new ad highlights everything wrong with the company right now

By Mike Murphy

Yesterday (April 2), Apple released a new ad targeted at corporate customers.

The three-minute segment is pretty funny and well done, and you can watch it here:

But after it’s over, you’re probably left with some questions. The ad features a team frantically putting together a pitch for their product, a new type of pizza box. Did their pitch succeed? What exactly made those Apple products they used to put it together so special? And why aren’t all pizza boxes round?

The small irony in this ad is that Apple does in fact use a round pizza box design, much like the one in the ad, in its own office cafeterias. It even holds a patent for the design.

Quartz has asked Apple if it’s ever thought of licensing its design out to other pizza makers, but we’re guessing that there’s a reason why few pizza boxes deviate from the traditional square shape: it’s far cheaper to mass produce, ship, and put together. While Apple’s design could potentially have its benefits—maybe it could be made of completely recycled cardboard (we’ve asked), as Apple does apparently care deeply about the environment—it appears that the box, like just about everything Apple focuses on these days, is an over-engineered solution to a problem that had already been solved in a less expensive way.

Apple (sometimes) makes fantastic computers, tablets, watches, phones, and other devices that make getting work done possible. We generally use Macs here at Quartz. But company procurement and IT departments, especially those like the one in the ad that seem to be so concerned with their budget that they’ve not updated the office decor since the 1970s, need to see the benefits of every dollar they spend. And given that there appear to be some Microsoft products being used in the commercial, like Microsoft Excel, it’s not abundantly clear why that team needs iMacs, which start at $1,100, and iPad Pros, which start at $978 with the keyboard case, to do their jobs when a bog-standard Dell or Microsoft Surface might do the trick.

Much like with Apple’s forthcoming services and its failure to convince Chinese consumers that the iPhone is worth the price, Apple is struggling more than ever to show what differentiates its products from its competitors. Some of those competitors (I’m looking at you, Microsoft and Samsung) are stepping up like never before, too.

But it wouldn’t be very like Apple to suggest that its expensive solutions aren’t the best way to do anything, even something as simple as transporting some pizza from one place to another.

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