Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Microsoft v. Apple - They Both Win

(I know it has been a very long time since my last post. The main reason for that is that my work, which I am enjoying immensely, is keeping me very busy. However, I have been thinking about this topic for a while, and it's time for me to actually post about it.)

I had a recent experience with my Mac that reminded me why I own one. But before I get to that, I'd like to discuss what I like about Microsoft or, more specifically, what I like about their new advertising campaign:

Almost a year ago, I posted that I enjoyed and appreciated the "I'm a PC" campaign from Microsoft, a campaign created by Crispin Porter & Bogusky. Crispin Porter excels at communicating both the essence of brand and the value a product delivers to customers. In this case, they're doing the latter, highlighting the configurability of Windows-based machines, so you only pay for exactly what you want. In every commercial, they take a direct swipe at Apple by pointing out that, to get just what you want from Apple, you would need to pay much more than a PC would cost. It's a powerful campaign, and does what I have always tried to do in marketing: highlight my product's strengths while moderating its weaknesses.

Here's another thing that I enjoy about these new ads. I love that Microsoft and Apple are actively bashing each other. Apple has been plugging away at Microsoft for a long time with their "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" ads, and this is the first example of an effective counterpunch from Microsoft. Why do I like this? Because this kind of competition is great for consumers like you and me.

Now, will these ads make me buy a PC? No way, and a recent experience will show why. My wife's sister-in-law celebrated her 25th wedding anniversary, and the family was asked to submit video wishes to the couple. We decided to make a goofy video about an episode from the couple's past. We shot about 10 minutes of very loosely scripted video, and I imported that into Apple iMovie. I then edited it down, inserted opening titles and closing credits, overlayed intro music, and inserted transition effects. I had never done anything like this, and it took all of about an hour. If you'd like to see the video, here it is. (However, it's full of family inside jokes, so I'm not sure you'll appreciate the humor.) [I just noticed that the embedded video doesn't format correctly in either Firefox or Safari. If you'd like to see it on the YouTube site, you'll find it here.]

How does this illustrate why I wouldn't own a PC? Couldn't I do this on a PC? Sure. But I'd have to research the software required to do movie editing, go buy it, install it, figure out how to use it, make sure I had the correct drivers for my camcorder, etc. With a Mac, it was all there, it all worked, and it was intuitively easy.

This was all done on my work laptop, by the way. If I were one of the people on the PC commercials, I would have defined the ideal work laptop for me, which means I never would have included something like Mac's iLife suite. But the fact is, my work laptop is my only computer; it has to do everything in my life. If I had to equip a PC with every application that I MIGHT need in the future, like photo or movie processing or creating PDFs, it would cost at least as much as my Mac, and it wouldn't work nearly as well. Apples-to-'apples' price comparisons have been done many times (like here and here), and generally conclude that Macs and PCs are about the same price, when similarly equipped.

Macs are complete machines, amazingly well designed. And not more expensive than PCs, when measured 'apples' to apples.
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