The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recommended that Apple Computer stop advertising its Power Mac G5 as "the world's fastest personal computer" after reviewing tests that refute that claim. Acting on a tip from Dell, the BBB told Apple that its advertising could deceive consumers, who need to base their purchases on accurate information.
"The National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus recommended that Apple discontinue comparative performance claims regarding its Power Mac G5 personal computer," the organization wrote in a release. "NAD determined that the evidence provided by Apple did not provide a reasonable basis for its broad unqualified claims that its Power Mac G5 is 'the world's fastest, most powerful computer' and that it 'edged out the competition on integer' \[processing performance\]. NAD further determined that the advertiser's claim, 'the world's first 64-bit processor for personal computers,' could reasonably be interpreted to apply to workstations...this claim is \[also\] unsupported by the evidence."
Apple said it supports the BBB's self-regulatory nature and will voluntarily comply with the organization's recommendations. However, the company noted that the Power Mac G5 advertising campaign that makes the unsupported claims has already "run its course." Apple said it will be "mindful of the \[BBB's\] views in its future advertising."
The Power Mac G5 has been steeped in controversy since Apple unveiled the machine last summer. Like it does with many products, the company preannounced the Power Mac G5 to eager Macintosh fans, then delivered the product slowly over a period of several months. But Apple almost immediately found itself in hot water with tech enthusiasts because of its blanket statements about the superiority of the Power Mac G5 system compared with AMD- and Intel-based PCs and workstations. Many independent tests found Apple's performance claims to be spurious.
Then, in November 2003, the UK's Independent Television Commission (ITC, now part of the Office of Communications--Ofcom) banned Apple's Power Mac G5 TV ads in the UK, citing their misleading and unsupported claims. "Viewers complained that the advertising was misleading because the main claim was based on the results of limited tests in which the specification of the computers used was configured to give Apple the best results," the ITC wrote in its decision. "\[Our\] independent IT expert raised some concerns...\[and\] found that the claim was not supported by independent reviews and that at best 'the G5 was generally as fast as the best Intel-based workstations currently available.' The ITC considered that there was insufficient evidence to support the claim 'world's fastest, most powerful personal computer.'"
Regarding the most recent chapter in the Power Mac G5 story, Dell representatives said that the company notified the BBB because Apple's performance claims were inaccurate. "We felt there were some inaccuracies in Apple's advertisement and wanted to act on behalf of consumers in the marketplace who deserve accurate information on which to base their purchase decisions," a Dell representative said. "Essentially, we felt that clarity in the marketplace benefits consumers, and \[the BBB\] agreed."