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There's generally more attention on the fight between Microsoft and Google this decade than on the fight between Apple and Microsoft. That's because Google seems to represent the future, while Apple and Microsoft are often seen as anachronisms from a prior age. However, these two clearly aren't ready for the tech old folks home yet -- both have done some amazing things over the last few years. The difference is that Apple, because it's marketing-driven, typically gets more credit for its activities than Microsoft does. That has changed recently, and Microsoft has been kicking a little Apple buttusky.
Apple's price drop was THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS, not "a measly US$100" as you wrote in this thoroughly manipulative hit piece. And the price drop wasn't merely due to — Microsoft (a company I don't particularly hate) pointing out, during the deepest recession on record, that a PC laptop can be had for cheaper than an Apple — but also because Apple's manufacturing process (ENGINEERING) has become less complex and costly with the new unibody. In fact, Apple's profit margins increased this last quarter, despite the price drop.
(I believe Microsoft's profits were down 29%, while Apple enjoyed it's most successful non-holiday quarter in the company's history. How can you spin that? With a slippery, disingenuous concept piece about marketing versus engineering.)
In the meanwhile, even before the THREE HUNDRED $ price drop, take a look at the prices of any PC company who makes a laptop that's particularly "thin and light" and that's highly engineered, made of something other than plastic; it's always just as expensive as Apple, sometime more.
Take Dell's Adamo, for instance, starting at $2000, hundreds more than the MacBook Air, yet grossly underpowered unless you add hundreds more to the price.
Now look at the rest of the unibody line of MacBook Pros and compare them to the competition. You might be able to find something somewhat attractive compared to the usual bathroom scales you see in Best Buy.
But it won't have the engineering, the look and feel in your hands, and it won't have the ability to run any OS on the market. What it will have is the visually noisy, and process hogging Vista (though Windows 7 is supposed to be better), in hardware that has too many holes bored and slots cut out for peripherals, stickers aplenty, ugly decorative elements and/or logo, and in a case that doesn't flex and feel plastic-ey.
That's why Apple's actual ENGINEERING, both software and hardware eventually attracts someone like me. (Their stores work.) Yet, do I sound stupid or unthinking, easily manipulated by slick marketing? How could that be when you've probably never known a person so, like me, so very averse to watching or seeing advertising. Have Adblocker, have Tivo, live in a small city that outlawed billboards, and ads on public transport. Visited Chicago, took a weekend trip to Wisconsin once, but didn't stay past a day because there's no nature there that doesn't have massive family fun park billboards, set against stunning Vistas.
Sorry, but some of us won't fall for this BS. Its all to similar to the same BS you get from TV evangelicals, scientologists selling e-meters, and dipsticks selling "half off" bottled water, which they insist still has to cost twice as much as tap, because well.. they ionized the particles, added mega-super vitamins, and consulted a homeopath on how to oxygenate it (by removing nearly all traces of oxygen. Its great marketing, for people that are total fools, who don't **want** to know why, or how, they are actually being robbed.
The *only* thing that has changed is, in the past, Microsoft didn't have to market. They had the only damn thing that worked (and was compatible, because people didn't buy non-PCs, if they wanted anything to work at all, and they made absolutely sure it stayed that way). Only, now.. People are making it work without them, and in a way they can't steal, sue, or destroy, without actually making things worse for themselves. For the first time since they started "borrowing" things from other people, so as to put companies like Lotus 1-2-3 out of business, or undermine 3rd party DOS, etc., they have been forced to attempt to convince people to buy their product, instead of just making it, and knowing people will have to buy it, to do any work at all.
So, what are their first real advertisements? Some totally lame thing with Seinfield, which made absolutely no damn sense, and didn't help them, and now.. lying via omission about how much better their product is, by trying to equate, "Its the only one of two in the store, and is slightly cheaper.", with, "Its actually better than *all* of the alternatives out their.", and failing to point out that the places their "honest" buyers are going into have been convinced not to sell anything other than Mac or Windows, or made deals with Microsoft to include the software on their hardware, and not offer non-installed computers, or the option to get it with something "other" than their product (or Apple's). Its like going to car lot that deals with "American" cars, then insisting that all the cars "must be" better than foreign ones, because there are no Nissans on the lot.
The simple truth is, its fabricated BS, just via backroom deals, prior misinformation, and a long standing belief, even among retailers, that MS **is** the only other machine besides Mac. At best, its dishonest. At worst, its a complete lie.
Rob, you have clearly articulated why Microsoft will fail going up against Apple.
The first error is that Apple is NOT a marketing company. There is engineering and design work done at Apple that is of extreme value and beyond anything Microsoft is capable of - until Apple have done it - and then they just fire up their photocopiers. This has worked in the past in that Microsoft have had boatloads of money to throw at stuff. Apple innovate by developing stuff in house Microsoft innovate by buying in the technology they want.
Secondly if Microsoft were an engineering based company then where's the meat? - where's the innovation? We see lots of stuff shown from Microsoft - some of it interesting - say project Natal - but it is all years away - it is all smoke and mirrors. If Apple were to show off something like project Natal (I am not saying Apple would do this - it is just an example for sake of argument) then it would be released immediately or within weeks (the iPhone was an exception being pre-announced a whole six months before release - but hey - we're not talking sometime in the vague future like we are with project Natal).
"For Apple, marketing is strategic, and top marketing people would like to have Apple on their resume." See - you are damning Apple yet again with faint praise. Top anything people would like to have Apple on their resumé. Try the guys at Palm - that seems to be the BEST thing to have on your resumé to work their at your moment, with John Rubenstein (pretty certain not a marketing job he held at Apple) and Lynn Fox (OK perhaps PR was a part of marketing) as well as many others.
Finally the "whiny call" from Apple was only articulated by a Microsoft employee. Call it spin. I would say more likely someone phoned to tell them they would have to update the ads following the recent price cuts - but to them it is a whiny call. BTW in the real world since when did legal representatives just phone to complain? If Apple really was doing this then where is the typed letter in cryptic legalese - Apple are pretty good at sending out cease and desist letters I believe?
The whole premise of your argument is that Microsoft have finally got the "marketing" thing sorted and are now ready to take on the world is great - save for the fact that that is NOT the reason that Apple are succeeding. You are looking at all the noise while all the time forgetting that the real magicians are actually doing real work in the areas you are ignoring. It is sleight of hand but everyone seems to be looking at the magic trick while ignoring where the real work is done.