Would you ever take your tablet camping? The Great Outdoors can be an awfully wet and dirty for a sensitive, several-hundred-dollar gizmo, so we say "no." But Google, being Google, wants its products to follow you to the ends of the Earth, even when you're trying to get away from it all.
That's the suggestion of the first video advertisement for the Nexus 7 tablet, which made its way to YouTube yesterday. The ad depicts a hyper-cute father-son pair bonding over both nature and Nexus, presumably the latter augmenting the experience of the former. With everything from compass to flashlight to frog species identifier, the Nexus is a sort of an ultimate Swiss army knife for many outdoor needs. (Though we'd definitely recommend bringing a real knife when camping.)
But in our experience, nature's best when the electronics are left home. After all, how are you suppose to see the stars with a glowing screen nearby? Kids today, we're told, aren't spending enough time in nature as it is. There's even media-ready term for it now: Nature-Deficit Disorder. While we admit that a 0.75 pound electronic is lighter than the sum weight of the several pieces of camping gear a tablet could replace, doing things you can do with your kids at home is not the point of camping.
Of course, we're ignoring the twist at the end of Google's ad: The father and son are just camping in their backyard. Unfortunately for Google, it undermined the point they were trying to make in the ad. The new Nexus's lack of a 3G or 4G option, as TechCrunch's Matt Burns points out, has been a weak spot for the otherwise glowingly reviewed (and already sold out) tablet. "To me and many others its only downside is lack of built-in wireless data connectivity," writes Burns.
This ad here is an argument for why the Nexus 7 is wonderful even without data, designed to emphasize the abilities of the tablet -- playing checkers, reading children's stories, watching movies -- for which no WiFi is required. But browsing Google Earth, as shown at the end of the spot? Just a reminder that you need WiFi for that.
As for the charm of the spot, that's patent Google. (Google patents everything.) The full-court press cuteness, seen in the company's ads for its search engine, is something we've come to expect. But reactions to today's spot were mixed. Gizmodo and TechCrunch called it adorable while The Atlantic Wire's Rebecca Greenfield said the cute "doesn't make us want to buy the product."
As for us, we can't help but be turned off to how hip this outdoorsman-wannabe dad is trying to be. But Google just falls in a long long line of tech companies blatantly pandering to hipsters, which includes include Microsoft, Palm, and Apple.
Parents, we know how hip it might seem to bring a tablet camping, but your kids will see right through your ploy. It's not. Let's let the wilderness be one of the few places left where we can think without a computer helping us do so.