Microsoft Phones in an iPad Attack Ad

| Analysis

It's like the company isn't even trying any more. Microsoft has released another iPad attack ad—this time supporting a Dell Windows RT tablet—but as far as attack ads go, this one was phoned in. Maybe they were using a Windows Phone device and were simply too bored to care?

You might remember that Microsoft ran an ad harnessing Siri to criticize the iPad's inability to run two apps side by side. "Should we just play 'Chopsticks?'" Siri's voice asked in that ad. It was misleading, but moderately amusing. Maybe.

Microsoft followed that up with an ad that erroneously charges that there are no Office-compatible apps on the iPad—there are dozens of clones. The company's point was that Office is available for Windows RT and Windows Pro devices. Any points the company might have gained for having Office were eradicated for the lie. The ad didn't run very long, so it must not have been successful.

We got the next installment in the series on Friday, an ad that shows Siri freaking out about not being able to zoom out to look at all of your available apps (like you can with a Windows RT tablet). She's also made to object to the (evidently really stupid) iPad operator who tries to insert a flash memory card in non-existent slots.


A Lazy Way to Make a Point

Let me ask a question: didn't we already come to grips with the fact that no one gives a crap about having—or not having—a flash memory card slot on their smartphone or tablet? Is this really a selling point?

Which brings me to a point I've been making for a while now. If you're Microsoft and you are studying the success of the iPad, and what you walk away with is that people really want a Flash memory slot—or a keyboard—you're doing it wrong.



Microsoft needs a new CEO, a product guy or gal, someone with vision. The guy they have there now—Steve Ballmer—let's commercials like this hit the airwaves.

The ad in full:

One more thing: What's up with that dirty gray background both devices are sitting on? It's gross.

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John Martellaro

I thought it was snappy and funny and made a point. It will provide some fodder for the fans. But, as Bryan said, you go with you got. And Microsoft doesn’t have much to go with.


It’s kind of sad to watch this…



May I respectfully point out that you are not in the market to which that ad is targeted. Having said that, I am somewhat uncertain as to whom that market is, but it is clearly not comprised of iPad-savvy, let alone iPad-using, clients.  It will not, and could not, appeal to you. It is, nonetheless, a clever piece of propaganda targeted at people who, to my thinking at least, do not get what a tablet is or how it is to be used. Trying to insert a flash memory card into an iPad? Dear lord, why? That is so 2003, particularly when, today, any of the media that you want to run on your tablet likely is measured in the 10s to 100s of gigabites, and is better hosted in the cloud, not simply for storage but for cross-device access and synchronisation. A flash card? As my kids would say, ‘Really???’ Anyone who does not know this is likely not even in the market for a tablet, so one might presume that MS are targeting the tablet-noncommitted, saying, ‘We have something for you, and you can do to it what is comfortable and familiar to you’.

The Office piece is, again in my opinion, deliberately and cleverly worded disinformation. It may be true that, without conversion (and this is what I think MS mean and could defend in court if necessary) one could not run Pages or most/any of the other MS-compatible offerings. We do know that for Pages, you have to export it as a Word file for Word to open it. Again though, to whom is that addressed? What is the evidence that most tablet sales are going to enterprise usage, or even if used at work, are primarily used as work devices? A selling point? Unlikely a key one, if one at all. As a professional, I do use my iPad at work; quite a bit actually. But anyone using an iPad already knows how to work around MS Office files on the iPad, so once again, this is targeted to non-iPad perhaps even non-tablet of any make, potential clients.

Finally, the grubby background may well be inspired by subliminal message psychology, which posits that messages and subtle images undetected by the conscious mind nonetheless influence conscious choice and behaviour. Tarnish the iPads pristine image with a grubby background and the association may stick. Perhaps, and good luck with that.

What I take away is the message that MS are undoubtedly not trying to make; namely that much of their approach to date has been about the iPad, detracting from it, but about the iPad nonetheless. It’s a tacit admission that, the only way in which their product can be seen amongst the tall trees is to fell those trees (products) that stand head and shoulders above theirs. Once downed or at least diminished, then their product might get some daylight. Theirs is thus a position of weakness, not dominance. They do not see themselves as a dominant force but as a David against Goliath.

The problem with that strategy is that, just because you can convince a sub-set of people that product or person A is not so desirable, does not mean that you have persuaded them of the desirability of product or person B. It does not follow unless your choice is both binary and obligatory (meaning you must decide on one or the other). MS is not in a binary bid.

Interesting stuff, all the same.

Paul Goodwin

There’s a good little write up in Wikipedia on Comparative Advertising. Negative advertising can easily backfire and is trick legally. “....  such negativity can either be transferred directly to the brand and the consumer’s impression of the brand, various studies through the years have proven that comparative advertising has been responded to negatively.”

IMO, picking out a few insignificant features and touting them as a reason to buy a Windows tablet in this ad will not help MS at all, and this ad won’t run long either. I suppose there’s always a possibility that that windows tablets will make an impact, but jumping into a market late and not really having compelling user advantages is and will continue to be a tough row to hoe.


“Dirty grey”? I think you’re reaching a little now, or need to adjust your monitor. I see an ordinary off-white.



So iPads can talk, but Win RT tablets can’t? smile

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