WootBot


quality posts: 15 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

If you missed the news, Microsoft recently unveiled their new "iPad killer" (I don't know if they're actually billing it as such or if that's just what tech news junkies decided to call it; it's tough to pinpoint from where the term originated): Surface. It's a tablet PC, an idea so completely revolutionary you'd forget they already did this back in 2002. They spent a lot of time, money, and marketing on getting people excited about it.

Then it froze during the presentation.

I'm not here to pick on Microsoft about that, though. Gaffes like that can and do happen to anyone during live presentations all the time; it's just fun to laugh at the poor guy's misfortune as he handles (like a pro, I might add) the unforeseen failure and stammers his way through. What I really want to talk about is the presentation itself: bold monochromatic screens, smooth sans-serif font, a balding guy in a sweater holding a shiny piece of technology…are you really going to make me say it, Microsoft?

Stop trying to be Apple.

Seriously. I'm not an Apple fanboy or even apologist. I'm writing this on a MacBook Air solely because that's what the company bought for me to do my job. If it were a Lenovo or Dell or some other non-Apple device I would use it instead. I'm not trying to argue why one is superior or one is pure evil or that anyone who uses either of them is dumb. I'm here to offer my services as a one-man marketing department. Because Microsoft, you desperately need a new marketing department.

So for a mere $1 million consulting fee I'll come up with a far superior (to what you're currently doing, anyway) advertising plan. In fact, I'll give it to you right now, over the web, if you promise to send me the $1 million. No? What if you just credit me for the plan? Okay, sure, I guess you want to hear the plan first. Fine. Here it is:

Put out a commercial that says you're not Apple.

Seriously. That's it. That's how easy it will be. Look, you're never going to convince people in the thrall of the great Jobs to come over the wall, so stop worrying about them. You also don't have to worry about diehard computer users who are already sold on being able to gut their machines and build their own rig and seek out the best performance for their needs; you win them by default, pretty much, unless Linux suddenly bursts onto the mainstream. No, what you need to do is cater to those middle of the road folks who need a computer, not necessarily a $2,000 video editing bay and not necessarily a hulking CPU wired through a lawn mower body that must be super-cooled or else it will burn a hole in their floor. You need those regular Joe customers.

And to get regular Joe customers, you have to advertise like regular Joes. Stop with the fancy faux-Apple shimmer. Present yourself thusly: "Hey. We're Microsoft. We make stuff that works. If you want shiny, great. Spend a few extra bucks and get yourself something shiny. If you want something reliable, versatile, and upgradeable, then come talk to us. And save a couple bucks because we didn't have to license any indie music for this ad."

Short. Simple. Sweet. No fake hipsterism, no blatant appeal to image-conscious youth, and no backlash when you fail miserably for trying to be cooler than you are. I get it, Microsoft, I do. You're worried about being the "old guys" while Apple gobbles up all the kids with their shiny iPods and stuff. But the fact is you already ARE the old guys. And that's okay. You're the guys people turn to when they want something affordable, when they want something they can attempt to fix themselves, or when they want something they can actually try to add to later down the road. That's your niche: good ol' reliable Microsoft. There's a lot to be said for honesty in advertising (or, even better, cultivating the illusion of honesty in your advertising); people respect a brand that admits its shortcomings so you can better judge its strengths. At least that's what we tell ourselves here. So chill out, stop trying to out-market Apple, and just focus on your bread and butter.

And seriously, never do a live demonstration again. 

(you can make the check for $1 million out to "CASH")

Gatzby


quality posts: 43 Private Messages Gatzby

Heh, so, "Think different. Again."

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mjc613


quality posts: 48 Private Messages mjc613

Not totally on topic, but a rabbi's point of view on Gates and Jobs:
http://www.aish.com/ci/s/Defining_Success_Steve_Jobs_or_Bill_Gates.html

Jason Toon


quality posts: 19 Private Messages Jason Toon

Microsoft's "I'm A PC" series was kinda like this - and not coincidentally, pretty much the only Microsoft marketing that didn't scream DESPERATE MIDDLE-AGED ENGINEERS TRYING TOO HARD TO BE COOL.

seanjlawrence


quality posts: 0 Private Messages seanjlawrence

What no portrait view...that's so revolutionary

abitterwoman


quality posts: 29 Private Messages abitterwoman

Lol. I really liked your marketing ideas. Pretty funny, but very true.

"Computers don't make errors. What they do, they do on purpose."

WoadWarrior


quality posts: 1 Private Messages WoadWarrior

@WootBot You also don't have to worry about diehard computer users who are already sold on being able to gut their machines and build their own rig and seek out the best performance for their needs; you win them by default, pretty much, unless Linux suddenly bursts onto the mainstream.
By default? Hardly. The most hardcore system tweakers I know run Linux primarily and run Windows only for specific programs. (Usually work related.) Now I'm not saying this is typical, but Windows is hardly a default action any more.
You are definitely right about their marketing though. It is terrible. But then again, How many companies advertising is really all that good?

Jason Toon


quality posts: 19 Private Messages Jason Toon
WoadWarrior wrote:
You are definitely right about their marketing though. It is terrible. But then again, How many companies advertising is really all that good?



There's bad advertising, and then there's advertising that's so embarrassing it's hard to share a room (or a planet, even) with it.

Microsoft is one of those companies (like Dr. Pepper or McDonald's) that just seems to have a congenital tin ear for advertising.

stratoknight


quality posts: 0 Private Messages stratoknight

I for one believe that companies should always be improving themselves. Here is an excerpt from Earl Nightingale:

"Now why are all companies concerned with growth? Even when they seem to be doing well today? It’s because of the law that operates with companies just as it does with human beings. Nothing in the world stands still. Nothing in the entire universe stands still. The law of physics goes, a body in motion tends to remain in motion until acted upon by an outside force.

A company that is growing has a tendency to continue to grow; in other words, it’s doing things right. Conversely, a company that is going backwards or shrinking has a tendency to continue to go backwards or shrink until acted upon by an outside force. All responsible company officers know that unless a company is growing, it’s developing the first signs of death. Well, you’re the head of your personal corporation, and you should realize that this same law applies to you as well.Now why are all companies concerned with growth? Even when they seem to be doing well today? It’s because of the law that operates with companies just as it does with human beings. Nothing in the world stands still. Nothing in the entire universe stands still. The law of physics goes, a body in motion tends to remain in motion until acted upon by an outside force.

A company that is growing has a tendency to continue to grow; in other words, it’s doing things right. Conversely, a company that is going backwards or shrinking has a tendency to continue to go backwards or shrink until acted upon by an outside force. All responsible company officers know that unless a company is growing, it’s developing the first signs of death. Well, you’re the head of your personal corporation, and you should realize that this same law applies to you as well."

Microsoft was moving backwards and they had to embrace new things. They are trying to move forward. Yes, they are taking a page from Apple, but it is exciting a lot of people. It is getting people talking. What is the definition of insanity by Einstein? "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Now I am not saying they should get away from their bread and butter but I think that they are at a place where they can and should take some risks. An old dog can learn new tricks.

Never stop growing my friends. Try new things. Learn everyday. Have a sense of constructive discontent. Keep that sense of hunger alive that will take you to the next level. This is what I love to see in people and what I love to see in companies as well.

bigshtank


quality posts: 3 Private Messages bigshtank

Still don't see the need for a double sized phone that doesn't make phone calls.

futurebillionaire


quality posts: 0 Private Messages futurebillionaire

Here's your marketing plan: "Microsoft: equivalent performance to Apple for $500-$1000 less".

ThunderThighs


quality posts: 617 Private Messages ThunderThighs

Staff

You made some really good points.

I've never understood why Microsoft continues to do live demos for their big announcements. It doesn't matter how many times they rehearse it, something seems to go wrong.



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rainman0694


quality posts: 0 Private Messages rainman0694

"Put out a commercial that says you're not Apple." "...and you don't have to be a genius to enjoy our software." Well, ok, not that you really do for an Apple either, but I just hate that they call their nerds 'geniuses'.

baybei


quality posts: 49 Private Messages baybei

Woops! Excuse me just a second.

LOL!

They should also think about price, to try and sell if for more than or close to the price of an iPad would be foolish, as I know I for one would go with the iPad if it were similar in price to the Microsoft one only because the iPad has been out for so long, and I know it's reputation.

bogus


quality posts: 11 Private Messages bogus

If it were just marketing I wouldn't mind it as much, but it seeps into product development which backfires horribly. Remember Vista? Microsoft drank the Linux kool-aid, thinking if they made the OS a "user experience" with lots of shiny features the neckbeards would all fall for them. But they didn't, because Linux people don't care about Microsoft and never will. But in tilting at the Linux windmill, they screwed over their actual customers with a crappy OS and problems that haven't even been fully resolved by Win7.

I see the same thing happening with Windows 8. It's clear now that MS has decided that tablets and the tablet interface are the one and only future of computing and screw everybody who doesn't drink the kool-aid. Which is basically all of their customers. That they're actively blocking people from unlocking classic UI functionality and putting Metro in Windows Server demonstrates that Redmond no longer has any clue whatsoever about what their clients want and need. Who needs to efficiently get things done in a business or power-user environment when you can have a wall of colored blocks showing Facebook status updates? And it's likely to be one of the biggest fails in the history of the company.

cengland0


quality posts: 11 Private Messages cengland0
futurebillionaire wrote:Here's your marketing plan: "Microsoft: equivalent performance to Apple for $500-$1000 less".



Remember, Microsoft doesn't create the desktop computers -- just the operating systems. It's not appropriate to compare Apple to Microsoft. You need to compare Apple to Dell, Apple to Lenovo, Apple to HP.

If you feel compelled to compare Apple to Microsoft, then do so on the operating systems only. How expensive is Windows 8 compared to Lion? What are the feature differences?

Edit: Suppose you can compare Microsoft to Apple on their Surface compared to an iPad but we don't know all the details on those Surfaces yet.

ZandersZa


quality posts: 5 Private Messages ZandersZa
cengland0 wrote:Remember, Microsoft doesn't create the desktop computers -- just the operating systems. It's not appropriate to compare Apple to Microsoft. You need to compare Apple to Dell, Apple to Lenovo, Apple to HP.

If you feel compelled to compare Apple to Microsoft, then do so on the operating systems only. How expensive is Windows 8 compared to Lion? What are the feature differences?

Edit: Suppose you can compare Microsoft to Apple on their Surface compared to an iPad but we don't know all the details on those Surfaces yet.



Came here to say this. It's a pretty huge difference considering many of the points made here.

llandar


quality posts: 32 Private Messages llandar
ZandersZa wrote:Came here to say this. It's a pretty huge difference considering many of the points made here.



I see your point, but when Microsoft responded to Mac's "I'm a Mac" campaign with their own "I'm a PC" version, they essentially ceded that yes, they are in direct competition with Apple. It's not quite apples to apples (that pun hurt) since Microsoft doesn't make hardware like Apple, but they're still very much invested in people buying "PCs" instead of Apples (even though they're both PCs and that faux-distinction bugs me).

hyliansnake


quality posts: 9 Private Messages hyliansnake
WoadWarrior wrote:@WootBot You also don't have to worry about diehard computer users who are already sold on being able to gut their machines and build their own rig and seek out the best performance for their needs; you win them by default, pretty much, unless Linux suddenly bursts onto the mainstream.
By default? Hardly. The most hardcore system tweakers I know run Linux primarily and run Windows only for specific programs. (Usually work related.) Now I'm not saying this is typical, but Windows is hardly a default action any more.
You are definitely right about their marketing though. It is terrible. But then again, How many companies advertising is really all that good?



If you think Windows isn't default anymore, then you need to take a look at a software system inside an academic institution. Or a million other large institutions with large networks made for everyday users.