Microsoft to attack Mac pricing in new series of TV ads

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 330
    More free advertising for Apple! Thanks, PC!
  • Reply 2 of 330
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,354member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 330
    i cant wait to hear what apples response is.
  • Reply 4 of 330
    hillstoneshillstones Posts: 1,490member
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 330
    vinney57vinney57 Posts: 1,162member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 330
    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!

    =]
  • Reply 7 of 330
    adjeiadjei Posts: 738member
    Yawn.
  • Reply 8 of 330
    nace33nace33 Posts: 94member
    Apple should respond by showing how much better Windows runs on Macs than on average PCs.
  • Reply 9 of 330
    hillstoneshillstones Posts: 1,490member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 330
    buzdotsbuzdots Posts: 452member
    Balmer should pull a condom over his head, 'cause he sure does look like a prick!
  • Reply 11 of 330
    adjeiadjei Posts: 738member
  • Reply 12 of 330
    zanshinzanshin Posts: 350member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 330
    vinney57vinney57 Posts: 1,162member
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 330
    adjeiadjei Posts: 738member
    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?
  • Reply 15 of 330
    vinney57vinney57 Posts: 1,162member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 330
    buzdotsbuzdots Posts: 452member
    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!!!
  • Reply 17 of 330
    vinney57vinney57 Posts: 1,162member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 330
    toestoes Posts: 55member
    ... 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.
  • Reply 19 of 330
    steviet02steviet02 Posts: 594member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 330
    7egend7egend Posts: 7member
    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.
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