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Microsoft to attack Mac pricing in new series of TV ads

post #1 of 331
Thread Starter 
After running through a series of ad campaigns designed to make Windows look cool, then victimized, then simply inescapably ubiquitous, Microsoft is now hoping to attack Apple in new ads that portray Macs as unaffordable compared to generic PCs.

According to a report by the Associated Press, Microsoft hired Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the ad agency behind the campaign pairing Bill Gates with Jerry Seinfeld, to recruit "unwitting subjects by posing as a market research firm studying laptop purchasing decisions."

Participants found on Craigslist were given between $700 to $2,000 to buy a computer fitting certain criteria, and were told they could keep the computer they selected.

One participant named Lauren was told to buy a 17" notebook for less than $1000. She was then filmed entering an Apple Store where she couldn't find one. Lauren then heads to Best Buy and selects a $699 HP machine running Windows. That experience was turned into a 60 second TV spot for Microsoft after the agency told the buyer that the purpose of the excursion was really to promote Windows.

Shopping for hardware

The new ads don't go into details on hardware purchases; they simply make the case that PC laptops can be found for cheaper, playing up tight funds in the tough economy. Best Buy actually does sell the DV7-1245DX, an HP notebook with 17" screen, but it lacks fast wireless 802.11n, fast Gigabit Ethernet, digital audio inputs and outputs, weighs 7.75 pounds, and only features the screen resolution of Apple's 15" notebooks: 1440 by 900. Technically, it is a 17" notebook in terms of size, but it doesn't have the 17" resolution of Apple's MacBook Pro, which is 1920 by 1200.

Video: Laptop Hunters $1000 Lauren Gets an HP PavilionThe new Microsoft Ad

One HP buyer pointed out that this model series "has the worst screen I have ever seen in my life. It's the 1440x900 screen and the viewing angles are so poor that even when sitting directly eye level with the screen it is totally washed out. If I go a little bit off-axis the screen results in a negative image. I was using the default settings. Unfortunately I didn't read reviews before i purchased."

Shopping for software

More importantly however, the HP notebook runs Windows Vista, rated by ChangeWave as having the lowest operating system satisfaction rating in rankings that were led by Mac OS X Leopard and also included Linux and Windows XP. Many PC makers continue to add a "Windows XP downgrade" as a feature on their new PCs.

This makes it particularly interesting that Microsoft would advertise its product by citing the price of the hardware it runs on, rather than calling attention to any of the features in its own product. It's not that Microsoft hasn't tried. Vista's first "Wow" campaign portrayed customers in a state of pleasant shock when using it.



Shopping for an ad campaign

After those ads collapsed in an avalanche of bad press complaining about arbitrary changes that did not improve anything and software and hardware compatibility problems, Microsoft rolled out the Mojave Experiment, which showed users a "new OS" that was really just a repackaged version of Vista. Those ads attempted to claim that Vista's bad reputation was all due to customers not giving the system a fair shake, but the ads sidestepped the real problems users were experiencing by not allowing participants to run Vista on their own PC or with their existing software and peripherals.

Microsoft then announced a $300 million campaign to revive the Windows brand by associating it with skits featuring Gates and Seinfeld which promised to "tell the story of Windows." Instead, the ads were canceled mid-production after being poorly received.

Following that, the company released a "Windows vs Walls" campaign reminiscent of Apple's Think Different commercials, and then a series of "I'm a PC" ads that tried to defuse Apple's Get a Mac spots by claiming that generic PCs were empowered to do anything, except of course, producing the ads themselves, as it was embarrassingly revealed that those ads were actually created using Macs.

Promoting cheap

Talking about price during a recession where the global PC market is actually shrinking for the first time ever is probably Microsoft's best bet in trying to stem the tide of switchers buying Macs. However, the company has to be careful because it's also competing against free software such as Ubuntu Linux, which also runs on generic PCs. In fact, those PCs get cheaper if they're sold without Microsoft's Windows, something the company has worked hard to prevent from happening.

When cheap netbooks surfaced last year and began to sell in increasing numbers, PC makers were able to hit their low price targets by bundling them with Linux. However, Microsoft stepped in and dumped low cost Windows XP licenses on the PC makers to get them to stop selling Ubuntu's software as a competing product, according to Ubuntu CEO Mark Shuttleworth.

Shuttleworth "believes that a decent edition of Windows [7] will mean Microsoft finally has to charge full price and that Redmond will finally stop allowing OEMs to use low-cost copies of Windows XP instead of paying full price for the full version of the official flagship - Windows Vista," according to an interview published by the Register.

"We are in an awkward situation now because they [Microsoft] are giving away XP in the netbook market - they are literally giving it way to OEMs," Shuttleworth said. "You can make the argument Linux is more expensive that Windows XP because Microsoft has been very aggressive in licensing."

As Microsoft starts charging more for its software, it will have to compete against Linux on the low end and Apple on the premium end. Further, as Apple builds WWLAN mobile broadband support into its forthcoming machines, Microsoft will also have to push Windows PCs against Apple hardware that is similarly priced due to begin subsidized by mobile carrier contracts, just as the iPhone broke down competitive barriers and leveled the playing field in smartphones, catching up to Microsoft's Windows Mobile shipments in just a matter of months.

post #2 of 331
More free advertising for Apple! Thanks, PC!
post #3 of 331
In today's economy every is trying to watch their dollars a bit closer.
Ballmer kicked of the "Apple's too expensive" campaign last week and now
it looks like Microsoft is going to ride this for their 8 seconds.

The scary part is that for once they may be right. Apple's latest lineup is
simply not price/performance competitive.
He's a mod so he has a few extra vBulletin privileges. That doesn't mean he should stop posting or should start acting like Digital Jesus.
- SolipsismX
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He's a mod so he has a few extra vBulletin privileges. That doesn't mean he should stop posting or should start acting like Digital Jesus.
- SolipsismX
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post #4 of 331
i cant wait to hear what apples response is.
post #5 of 331
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

More free advertising for Apple! Thanks, PC!

You got that right. They'll go over well just like those Seinfeld ads. Microsoft advertising cheap hardware that they don't even sell. Very odd. They should advertise their "Get Windows XP Free" campaign when you buy a Vista computer. Maybe that would help.
post #6 of 331
The strategy of going for price comparisons is absolutely the only way for Microsoft to go - but WTF are these people smoking! I refer you to Daring Fireball for the sad skinny.
post #7 of 331
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

More free advertising for Apple! Thanks, PC!

its pretty much showing us all how cheap, and low down PC's are...
everyone will now start to save for a Mac!
=]
post #8 of 331
Yawn.
post #9 of 331
Apple should respond by showing how much better Windows runs on Macs than on average PCs.
post #10 of 331
Quote:
Originally Posted by evanmixon View Post

its pretty much showing us all how cheap, and low down PC's are...
everyone will now start to save for a Mac!
=]

More realistically, they will avoid going to Best Buy to buy a computer.
post #11 of 331
Balmer should pull a condom over his head, 'cause he sure does look like a prick!
OMG here we go again...
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OMG here we go again...
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post #12 of 331
post #13 of 331
Microsoft and PC people attacking the Mac for costing too much. That's a novel approach.

No doubt they went that way because "easy to use" and "desirable" were already taken.

Edit: just watched the ad with "Lauren" shopping for the sub-$1000 17" laptop. I love the part where she says, "I'm just not cool enough to be a Mac person."

If I was told to get a 17" laptop for under a grand, I'd be looking at used Macs on eBay. It would still be worth something in 6 months.
post #14 of 331
I do have to agree though that for the first time is several years the Mac line up is looking seriously overpriced. There are lots of perfectly sound arguments for premium pricing in a recession but my loyalty is being a little tested. Getting a PC would be unthinkable, but delaying purchases isn't.
post #15 of 331
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinney57 View Post

I do have to agree though that for the first time is several years the Mac line up is looking seriously overpriced. There are lots of perfectly sound arguments for premium pricing in a recession but my loyalty is being a little tested. Getting a PC would be unthinkable, but delaying purchases isn't.

Last time I checked Macs have always cost more than a PC so what is your point?
post #16 of 331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adjei View Post

This is the add, utterly useless:

http://blog.seattletimes.nwsource.co..._at_apple.html

Wow, its a soap powder advert - and those laptops looked so pretty (eugh!)

I'm sure somebody thinks they are being like, 'super-clever' or something by gold-plating the Apple brand in a Microsoft advert - but, I really don't get it.
post #17 of 331
HOLY CRAP - watch the ad...

She says "I'm just not cool enough to be a Mac person"

That Ad Agency is dumber than I can even imagine!!!
OMG here we go again...
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OMG here we go again...
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post #18 of 331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adjei View Post

Last time I checked Macs have always cost more than a PC so what is your point?

Well I've been buying Macs since the SE so my point is this - there is an acceptable level of premium for Macs over PC's that is completely justified - this level varies dependent on the prevailing economic and technological zeitgeist. For the first time in quite a while that premium level is feeling too much.
post #19 of 331
... I believe many consumers are doing that currently (including myself), but the beauty of all the Macs I ever bought (and mostly still have) is that the hardware does last (unlike my current Vaio work laptop which after two years is getting exceedingly glitchy). My wife's G4 12" powerbook still trucks along (after getting a larger harddrive installed) ... albeit sloooowly.

Btw: did nobody notice the ad agencies name? "Crispin Porter + _Bogus_ky" ... gave me a little bit of a chuckle.
post #20 of 331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adjei View Post

Last time I checked Macs have always cost more than a PC so what is your point?

It's not that they are just now more expensive, it's that the speed/ram/hd is not spec'd like other laptops. And for the price they are charging they should be.
post #21 of 331
Let's see microsoft is going to accuse apple of being expensive and yet when you compare software to software os x is fully loaded and still cheaper than windows. So good luck microsoft. Dell tried to build a high end all metal notebook and it is way more expensive than a mac.

Guess common sense fails windows users.
post #22 of 331
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinney57 View Post

I do have to agree though that for the first time is several years the Mac line up is looking seriously overpriced. There are lots of perfectly sound arguments for premium pricing in a recession but my loyalty is being a little tested. Getting a PC would be unthinkable, but delaying purchases isn't.

True enough, but I'm kind of amazed that MS actually thinks they need to attack Apple directly, from any angle. It's as much as saying "Apple worries us, we think they're our main competitor, so we're going to go after them." For a company with the overwhelming market-share lead that MS enjoys, this strikes me as an expression of weakness, petty, a ringing endorsement of Apple's prospects, or all three.

Sure, Apple has been running its "Mac vs. PC" ads forever, but, one, Apple is the underdog and can get away with taking pot shots at the incumbent, two, Apple never mentions MS by name, contenting themselves with tweaking the whole idea of the PC, and three, they do it humorously.

Isn't there some kind of rule in advertising that you never mention your competitor by name, because it makes you look harsh and gives your competitor free publicity?
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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post #23 of 331
LOL, i just watched the ad.

It actually makes people want to buy a Mac lol.

"I guess i'm not cool enough to be a Mac person" .. oh dear

Yeah, lets advertise being cheap! Sure the economy is not doing so well, but given Apple's sales results, people still want good, reliable computers nonetheless.
post #24 of 331
Quote:
Originally Posted by BuzDots View Post

HOLY CRAP - watch the ad...

She says "I'm just not cool enough to be a Mac person"

That Ad Agency is dumber than I can even imagine!!!

AND, She's a PC and she got just what she wanted. She's right. Remember, you get what you pay for.
post #25 of 331
hahaha this is hilarious.
post #26 of 331
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

True enough, but I'm kind of amazed that MS actually thinks they need to attack Apple directly, from any angle. It's as much as saying "Apple worries us, we think they're our main competitor, so we're going to go after them." For a company with the overwhelming market-share lead that MS enjoys, this strikes me as an expression of weakness, petty, a ringing endorsement of Apple's prospects, or all three.

Sure, Apple has been running its "Mac vs. PC" ads forever, but, one, Apple is the underdog and can get away with taking pot shots at the incumbent, two, Apple never mentions MS by name, contenting themselves with tweaking the whole idea of the PC, and three, they do it humorously.

Isn't there some kind of rule in advertising that you never mention your competitor by name, because it makes you look harsh and gives your competitor free publicity?

Yup. Who do you think this ad benefited:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cz78v4euRd0

One hint, not Apple!
post #27 of 331
This argument pretty much falls flat on its face when the economy stats turning around and people have money to spend.

Apple has a pop at their competitors products, but they do it in good spirit with and with a bit of humour.

Microsoft here has a pop at their competitors users and insinuates they are cool and trendy airheads who can't spot a bargain.

EDIT: I've just realised something else funny. Microsoft is insinuating that users looking for a new computer first visit… an Apple store.
post #28 of 331
If that PC was smarter, she would have taken the $699(?) over to the Apple store and bought a Mac at a substantial discount.
post #29 of 331
So basically, MS is going to spend millions of dollars to tell people the exact same thing they can learn by looking at the Best Buy ad in the Sunday paper? I'm sure when people go computer shopping they do at least a basic amount of price comparison today, and they they are still choosing to buy Macs. So what new information is this new MS ad going to provide that they don't already know?
post #30 of 331
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The new ads don't go into details on hardware purchases; they simply make the case that PC laptops can be found for cheaper, playing up tight funds in the tough economy. Best Buy actually does sell the DV7-1245DX, an HP notebook with 17" screen, but it lacks fast wireless 902.11n, fast Gigabit Ethernet, digital audio inputs and outputs, weighs 7.75 pounds, and only features the screen resolution of Apple's 15" notebooks: 1440 by 900. Technically, it is a 17" notebook in terms of size, but it doesn't have the 17" resolution of Apple's MacBook Pro, which is 1920 by 1200.

I just want some of this new wireless 902.11n goodness!
:-D * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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:-D * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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post #31 of 331
Quote:
Originally Posted by columbus View Post

This argument pretty much falls flat on its face when the economy stats turning around and people have money to spend.

Apple has a pop at their competitors products, but they do it in good spirit with and with a bit of humour.

Microsoft here has a pop at their competitors users and insinuates they are cool and trendy airheads who can't spot a bargain.

Very good point.
post #32 of 331
This might make sense if Dell or HP did it, though their high end offerings are expensive too.

Microsoft offers various stripped and crippled versions of their OS; Home Basic Edition ($199.95), Home Premium Edition ($259.95), Business ($299.95) and Ultimate ($319.95).

Apple just sells one full version ($129.00).

MS may be setting themselves up again....
post #33 of 331
Sure you could go get a $599 PC laptop from Costco, but it has a limited warranty. It is priced to sell. It may not work in a year. Oh and you can buy it for 75% off next year on Ebay.

Lets test this theory. My company bought Dell Latitudes D610s for like $1,200 each new. Today on ebay completed items buy it now it is....$319.

Now how much for a MacBook that sold new last year for $1,299.
Completed items Buy It Now for $999.

This happens time and time again. You can still get PowerPC systems that are expensive and they are discontinued and software is slowly not being supported for them any more.

Oh and don't forget to tack on all the expensive software you'll need to make your Windows PC cool. Oh and don't forget all you non-techies you'll have to hire Geek Squad to configure your Outlook Express for you on the PC. But the Mac will set it up automatically.

I hate the new ads that Microsoft puts out to show little kids doing things.
On a Mac you just plug in the camera.
iPhoto pops up.
You click import.
Then you can just hit Publish to Mobile Me.
post #34 of 331
Apple will drop their price$ - YAY!!!!!!!
post #35 of 331
Maybe they should give an XP user $150 and ask them to upgrade their OS! Good luck with that. As this article said, MS is advertising PC HW not Windows because retail price Windows OS actually more than that of Mac OS.
post #36 of 331
I love how that best buy had Apple booth and yet Microsoft had to show Apple store. LOL

The thing is, Apple is not targeting people who are looking for cheap computers.
Apple had me at scrolling
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Apple had me at scrolling
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post #37 of 331
This is just great to watch. Microsoft is dying, and they know it. These last-ditch jabs at Mac users are just a final effort to make PC users think that they're so much smarter. It's doing nothing to slow the droves of people migrating to Mac each day.
17" i7 Macbook Pro (Mid 2010), Mac Mini (early 2006), G3 B&W, G3 Beige Tower, 3 G3 iMacs (original, bondi, snow), Power Mac 7600/132, Power Mac 7100/100, Power Mac 6100/60, Performa 5280, Performa...
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17" i7 Macbook Pro (Mid 2010), Mac Mini (early 2006), G3 B&W, G3 Beige Tower, 3 G3 iMacs (original, bondi, snow), Power Mac 7600/132, Power Mac 7100/100, Power Mac 6100/60, Performa 5280, Performa...
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post #38 of 331
Quote:
Originally Posted by steviet02 View Post

It's not that they are just now more expensive, it's that the speed/ram/hd is not spec'd like other laptops. And for the price they are charging they should be.

I agree completely.
post #39 of 331
Apparently the woman isn't EVEN a real shopper necessarily but actually an actress.

http://daringfireball.net/linked/200...-microsoft-ads

(Not that actresses can't shop, but...)
post #40 of 331
There is another factor at play here: the sort of customer Apple goes after isn't someone who wants a solution for as cheap as possible and is unlikely to make any further investment in peripherals or software.

I think we can be proud of the fact we have some incredible third developers are producing some amazing, innovative Applications exclusively for the Mac. The fact they stay in business and are actually growing in number suggests a significant number of Mac users are continuing to invest in high quality software.

Leopard had some bugs, but it was hugely significant for the Mac as a development platform and we are seeing an increasing number of Leopard only apps, such a Espresso, Doubletwist, Pixelmator and Graph Sketcher.
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