Microsoft v Apple: battle of the featherweights

Microsoft v Apple: battle of the featherweights

Platform wars are alive and kicking: Microsoft’s latest Surface Pro 4 advert pits their offering against Apple. The spot uses a light-hearted and charmingly bizarre song to make its point, but nonetheless shows that Microsoft is becoming increasingly confident in pitting its products against its biggest rival.

Summer 2016 is brimming with rivalry between the two giants. First, Apple positioned the iPad Pro as a computer. In response, Microsoft used Cortana on the Surface Pro 4 ad to take on the iPad Pro’s claims in a bitingly sarcastic ad. Now, they’ve followed up by taking down the MacBook Air, the Surface Pro’s other rival.

The new spot has amassed half a million views and over 2,000 likes on YouTube in under a week and highlights exactly what a Surface Pro 4 has that a MacBook Air doesn’t. In brief (and in a rather less poetic form than they use in the ad), that consists of a detachable keyboard, a stylus, a touch screen, and Cortana. What’s more, Microsoft gleefully boast that all that comes in at just over half the weight of the 13-inch MacBook Air.

Arguably, as programs (such as Microsoft Office) and apps (such as iTunes or Photoshop) easily run across both platforms these days, whether you choose to work on a Mac or PC is just a matter of taste: commentators have long been claiming that Microsoft Windows versus Apple Mac is over. However, Microsoft’s unrelenting Surface Pro push this summer suggests they’re more than happy to reignite old rivalries and seem happy to tear through the whole Apple catalogue.

It certainly seems that they may be on to something. Following on from a disappointing 2015 for the Windows giant, when Apple brought in 2.5 times more revenue than Microsoft, Microsoft have nothing to lose from an outright aggressive communications strategy. They’re unlikely to win over die-hard Apple fans (there are plenty of people jumping to Apple’s defence in the comments) but they may just sway those for whom Apple versus PC is more of a whim than a lifestyle choice.

What’s more, whilst Apple may have confidently stated that the iPad was taking over Windows users, sales have been falling since 2014. In a bid to correct this Apple seem to have scrambled to appeal to a broader audience and, in doing so, lost their edge: tech journalists such as Mac Observer’s Bryan Chaffin noted that an iPad ad starred a Surface Pro. It’s unclear what about the iPad sets it apart, so the time is ripe for Microsoft to swoop and grab the market share that Apple have effectively warmed up for them.

Mac sales, on the other hand, are still flourishing. However, with an offering as strong as the Surface Pro, Microsoft may as well have their fun. They’re unlikely to win much ground against the MacBook – yet – but they could certainly lay the groundwork.

Could similar ads help Microsoft gain ground versus Apple’s strongest contender: the iPhone? One commenter sums up the mood: “If Microsoft would make commercials for Windows Phone devices like for Surface, everything would be better”

What do you make of Microsoft’s advert? Should they do the same for the Windows phone? Tweet me @AgostinelliAldo.

This blog is also available in Italian.