Personally I think the ads are pretty good, and I like them a lot. They remind me a little bit of the 'think different' days. They focus on the qualities that make Apple different as a company, and that drive the creation of these products that people love so much. And I so admire those ideas, and those qualities; It almost hurts me to see these because frankly I don't think the company actually reflects these values right now.
What kills me about these ads is that they seem to be paying lip service to an ethic that isn't really in place anymore; kind of like the company is putting together and codifying their understanding of what it is they aspire to be... but have somehow forgotten how to actually be.
If it is really all about the experience of a product, then I just can't reconcile that notion with the direction Apple is taking with IOS7... Because frankly, IOS7 is boring, uninspiring, and generally just a crappy experience to use. Does it work? Yeah. Is it fun, and engaging? No. It is just plain vanilla utilitarian and there isn't much about it that makes it seem much more than just barely interesting. It is so bare and so lean that it's like a tree in the winter; you get the idea that there is something beautiful in there somewhere... but right now, it's just not able to get through. It's sleeping. And someone will argue that the tree is actually starkly beautiful in that state, and there may be some truth to that; some photographer might capture the essence of that in some brilliant moment and we would all wow and clap. But in reality, our daily experience of that tree would be dull, and dreary, and maybe even a little bit depressing. And without the brilliance of that photographer, we would all walk right past that stark, empty tree and barely even pay it notice.
I was at a state park a while back, and they have these restrooms that are just bare utilitarian. Stainless steel commode. Concrete floor. Block walls. Almost no adornment at all; pure function. And they work - they get the job done. Some could argue that there is some sort of elegance in their utilitarianism; that their design is honest and without pretention. But the thing is, using one is just yucky - it just sucks. That's how IOS7 feels. It gets the job done, but honestly the experience just stinks; it is unpleasant, and has no flourish.
What alarms me about Apple is that they seem to have concluded that in UI design, the user experience is equivalent to the function, and that anything that is not brutally and directly related to the pure function is awful and adds nothing to the experience... and that's just not true. Form and function intersect and inform each other, but in no way are they equivalent. And contrary to what Apple says, I think many users will find IOS7 to be a gigantic step backward in their enjoyment of the device. And if I don't really want to use my Apple device, what's to keep me plugged in to all those Apple services everyone talks about? And if I don't really like the experience of an Apple device any more than some other device... what exactly is there to get me to buy one, or to keep me buying new ones?
Not a heck of a lot.
And that's just sad.