Why Microsoft’s Surface Ads Won’t Be Taking a Bite Out of Apple’s iPad Market Anytime Soon
Shortly after this article was originally posted, and garnered some excellent comments, our hosting service had a systemic shutdown and had to revert everyone to previously saved versions of their websites. Thus, this blog post, and more importantly the discussion on it, was lost. Our apologies to Kylie, Adriel and Bruce, who gave excellent feedback which has since vanished into the cyber-nethers.
Shrouded in secrecy, selectively teased out to the public, Microsoft’s “iPad Killer” known as the Surface, has been generating a certain amount of buzz. Microsoft wants a piece of Apple’s tablet market, and who can blame them? The iPad dominates, having captured 58.2% of the tablet market last year. Some would say tablets are the future of computing, or at least, the future of digital media interaction. Gates’ little company has been taught by Apple that there is “gold in them thar devices.”
Too bad they haven’t learned anything from Apple about marketing.
Apple has always been brilliant in their advertising. You can’t swing a dead lolcat by the tail and not hit an article, blog or website dedicated to the genius of Apple’s marketing. But nowhere has it become clearer than in this comparison. See for yourself. The ad for the new Surface:
And here’s the iPad ad that was released shortly afterwards:
What’s the difference? Simple. Fundamental. And a difference that will make or break your advertising.
The Surface ad shows the product and the features. A built-in keyboard. SD card and USB slots. A built-in stand. Sure these things differentiate the two tablets, and speak to those who have complained about the lack of those features on the iPad. (One also can’t ‘dis’ Microsoft for comparative advertising – one of Apple’s most successful campaigns is based on that sort of positioning.)
But what the Surface ad doesn’t show, and what the Apple ad is all about, is the experience of using the tablet.
Apple has been about the user experience from day one. The iPad ad (like the ones before it) shows people interacting with the device. We see what it’s like to engage with an iPad. There is nothing in the Surface ad that gives us even a hint of the experience. As my wife said when she saw the Surface ad, “Sure, great, but what does it do?”
What’s in it for me? What will my experience be when I use the product? How will it fit into my life? I’ve mentioned how Apple has always been smart enough to advertise to the Undecided. Microsoft seems to be advertising to the Choir, the people who already dislike iPads. Which is funny, since those people are already interested in the product. They need to be informed, not advertised to.
The Apple ad shows the benefit. The experience. It answers my wife’s question by showing exactly what it can do. This is why we buy a tablet. Because there’s things we want to do and this product can help us do those things. I want an iPad so I can read the New York Times on it, not so I can prop it up on a kickstand.
The choir has responded well to the Surface ad. (Over 5 million views as I write this.) But why wouldn’t they? They are already looking for reasons to hate Apple products. In that respect, the ad resonates.
But ask yourself who is going to be moved by that ad: the 58.2% of the market that already has iPads, or the 41.8% that is divided up between all the other tablet producers? This ad is a way to step into the chaotic fray that is the smaller piece of the pie, but I doubt it’s going to take a bite of the Apple.
What do you think? Does the Surface ad excite you? If you have an iPad, does this ad make you want to switch? Let us know in the comments:
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