Apple Ads Suggest iPhone 5 More Galaxy S III Than iPhone 4

Will the iPhone 5, with the Samsung Galaxy S III, usher us into a weird world where we hang out chatting with our phones instead of our friends or family? New John Malkovich ad with Siri suggests: yes.

Is Apple positioning the iPhone 5 as more Samsung Galaxy S III than iPhone 4? In moving away from ads that feature normal people using the Siri digital assistant in honestly helpful ways€”asking Siri to update a schedule or remind them of errands or commitments€”to commercials with celebrities who, despite their tremendous likability and success, apparently have no one to talk to but their electronics, it would seem so.

Apple€™s most recent ad features actor John Malkovich€”at ease in what appears to be his well-appointed but understatedly glamorous home€”literally pondering the meaning of life with Siri. Of course, it€™s Siri that has the answers.

€œLife,€ sighs Malkovich.

€œTry and be nice to people. Avoid eating fat. Read a good book every now and then. Get some walking in. Try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations,€ says Siri.

Malkovich, looking impressed, responds, €œThat€™s pretty spectacular advice, actually. Thank you. I enjoyed this chat immensely€”you were very eloquent.€

Siri answers: €œThat€™s nice of you to say.€

In another spot, Malkovich asks Siri for a joke, looking more for a companion than an answer€”just as Sam Jackson is in his Siri commercial, teasing Siri with a pun (though at least also asking where he might buy organic mushrooms and asking for a reminder to chill his gazpacho). Zooey Deschanel, in her ad, has just as little honest need for Siri, asking the software if it€™s raining while standing just paces from the window.

Perhaps, with real breathing people to update their schedules and send messages, celebrities are content to use Siri as a court jester€”or set of digital ears willing to listen to them prattle on?

If that€™s the case, celebrities will want to, posthaste, get their hands on the Galaxy S III€”a phone that €œlistens,€ is €œwaiting for you to wake up,€ €œknows precisely what we are doing€ and €œfollows our intentions,€ Samsung vice president Jean-Daniel Ayme said at a May 3 event in London, introducing the robot-like smartphone that was €œinspired by nature.€

While not as gigantic as the S III, the iPhone 5 is expected to resemble the Samsung phone a bit more, growing its display size for the first time since its 2007 debut.

A simpler theory is that celebrity product endorsement equals sales, and with a new iPhone in the wings€”and so the last of an inventory to unload€”sales are a good thing.

YouGov€™s BrandIndex, which interviews 5,000 people each weekday for a real-time gauge of consumer sentiment, found the brand perception of the Android platform€”the iPhone€™s competitor€”to have dipped among 18- to 34-year-olds when the Sam Jackson/Zoey Deschanel ads began airing in mid April.

BrandIndex, which subtracts negative feedback from positive feedback (a score of zero means both were equal), found Apple€™s score, on April 19, to be at 16, versus Android€™s 26-point score. Five days later, with the ads airing, Android was at 29, but Apple had jumped to 30. The average buzz for the device sector, meanwhile, was at 15.

€œThe recent improvement in consumer perception has pushed iPhone ahead of Android and distanced itself even more from the rest of the mobile device sector,€ BrandIndex€™s Ted Marzilli blogged May 15. €œWhile both men and women were behind the perception lift, men registered the strongest push for the iPhone.€

While women started out with a higher opinion of Apple€”roughly a 35 to the 18-point average of men€”the male opinion arched higher than the female equivalent through the first days of May, then dipped slightly as the female opinion increased with time. Nearly finding consensus on May 10, men gave the iPhone an enthusiastic score of 56, while women gave it a 54.

€œApple has proven,€ wrote Marzilli, €œthat celebrities go well with Siri.€