It’s been about a decade since Mac was battering Intel with the Mac vs PC ads, an ad campaign so effective it boosted Mac sales by almost 40 per cent in a year. Today Intel’s in a very different position, and facing the value of Apple’s M1 chips, Intel has decided to flip the Mac vs PC ads on their head.
The ads all star Justin Long, the stand-in for Apple in the original Mac vs PC campaign. A string of them appeared on the Intel YouTube channel this morning, focusing on different elements on things PCs can do that Macs (both M1 and some older Intel-powered Macbooks, depending on the ad) can’t.
Even though the comparisons can be pretty flaky at times — the ASUS ZenBook is a very niche example of having dual screens that sacrifices some ergonomics to make it work, for instance — it’s an interesting view into the window of Intel’s marketing. The company has been taking hits repeatedly for the last couple of years, with AMD outflanking them in desktop CPUs and Apple’s own silicon being a vastly bigger threat and better replacement for Intel CPUs than anyone had anticipated.
Intel’s new CEO Pat Gelsinger has already told staff that Intel products have to be better than “any possible thing that a lifestyle company in Cupertino” makes, according to the Oregonian. Intel has opened the door to outsourcing manufacturing to Taiwan’s TSMC, which is responsible for making all of Apple’s 5nm chips, as well as all of the silicon for the PS5, Xbox Series X, AMD’s Ryzen CPUs and Radeon 6000-series GPUs on its 7nm process, but it will take years before any products built from that will reach consumers. There’s hope on the horizon that Samsung’s 3nm node will provide more competition and capacity, but that isn’t expected to begin risk production until 2022 at best. (It generally takes 6 to 12 months for a foundry to move from risk production to full production on a new process node.)
In any rate, Apple has reportedly already booked most of TSMC’s 3nm capacity, and over half of all of TSMC’s 5nm chips this year. Intel, on the other hand, is having to backport designs for their 10nm manufacturing node onto 14nm. That’s a nightmare of a position to be in, so Intel has to make up ground elsewhere — and marketing is the most obvious choice. Intel just has to hope that all those PC users don’t end up going for an AMD laptop when they do go PC — although thanks to the never-ending supply issues with 7nm chips, that’s one area Intel is at least having some success.
To see the rest of Intel’s marketing broadside with Justin Long, check out the official Intel YouTube channel.