I can’t decide whether Apple’s response to Microsoft’s Laptop Hunter series of ads is smart marketing, or an indication that the folks in Cupertino don’t know how to respond to the head shots that Microsoft is dishing out.
Smart marketing says if you have a winning message, stay on message. That’s what Apple has done. They’ve acknowledged that PC’s are cheap, but then said Mac’s work “without viruses, crashes, or headaches”. A minor tweak but basically the same message as they’ve used in the past.
There are two problems with their strategy.
The first problem is that they’ve conceded Microsoft’s point that Mac’s are much more expensive. I don’t think they have much option on this. Even if they make the argument, as some have, that a similarly equipped PC costs a similar amount to a Mac, they’re shooting themselves in the foot. The Mac brand is about being way more than a PC in every way – from experience to industrial design and coolness. Comparing a Mac to a similar PC would play right into Microsoft’s hands.
The second problem is they’re telling a white lie. When Windows Vista first shipped, the headaches and crashes message was dead on. Today it’s a pretty darn stable OS, and Windows 7 will ship the same way.
What about viruses? Maybe you remember Jim Allchin claiming that Windows Vista with Address Space Layout Randomization would obviate the need for antivirus? It certainly caused a flurry at the time, and even I mocked him for saying it. But you know, a funny thing happened last fall. My anti-virus subscription ran out, and I never renewed. I ran Vista locked down, with no antivirus (after rebuilds I didn’t reinstall) and escalations to administration mode only to install software I was comfortable with on my PC, my wife’s PC, and my laptop. It was exactly what Allchin suggested. It wasn’t until April of this year that I bought a new license for Norton Internet Security. When I ran the initial scan all the PCs came up clean — no viruses, no trojans, no malware of any kind. Jim Allchin might have been right!
To me, it looks like Apple’s messaging is getting a little long in the tooth. I can’t help think that a more meaningful response from Cupertino would be to invest in delivering a lower cost Mac instead of shovelling advertising dollars at the airwaves. Ironic isn’t it?
What are your thoughts?