I've never been a big fan of American Idol or reality TV in general, but the tit for tat going on between Microsoft and Apple ads reminds me a bit of a reality TV competition with bloggers acting as Simon and Paula and the gang. We watch. Sometimes we laugh. Sometimes we sneer, but it's all in good fun right?
The first series of ads you may recall (unless you've repressed it like a bad memory) featured the odd couple: Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld. I knew this was a bad idea from the get-go (as I wrote in Microsoft Seinfeld Strategy to Save Vista is Pathetic). The ads were strange, obtuse and missed the mark completely. If the aim was to change Microsoft's image, they failed miserably and were quickly scrapped.
Next Up: I'm a PC
I know some of the judges liked this one, but this campaign bugged me. I couldn't see the point. Of course a variety of people use PCs, but what does that even mean? Was it supposed to make people feel proud of their OS choice? Was it supposed to create a contrived rift between Mac and PC users? What was particularly stupid about this one is that it suggested you were either a Mac or a Windows user and as Dave Caolo pointed out in the post Microsoft's Inferiority Complex on Display in New Ads, you don't have to have a PC to run Windows:
"What they don't seem to realize is that every Mac is a potential Windows box! VMWare Fusion and Parallels run Windows in a virtual environment, but Bootcamp, which is bundled with every Mac, runs Windows natively on that machine's hardware. Quite well, too. Why they don't just point this out is beyond me. "
And Finally: The Laptop Hunters
You've seen these ads. The judges really liked this series. Felt it hit the mark and went for Apple's soft underbelly, its high price. Although I thought these ads carried forth a clear message from Microsoft, I was disappointed to learn that at least the Lauren ad used a paid actress, but more importantly, these ads were flawed because Microsoft doesn't sell PCs, it sells an OS, which brings us to the latest Apple ad.
Apple Strikes Back
You knew it was a matter of time before the Mac creative team came up with an answer to the Laptop Hunters series, and the latest ad goes for Windows' weakest vulnerabilities, security and crashes. Microsoft and Apple continue to go at each other and unless Windows 7 is dead stable, Microsoft can come up with the best ads ever and they still won't find a way to win the ad war because Apple can always continue to smack them back down.
One issue I have with the ads is that I rarely encounter people who are THAT enthusiastic abut their PC purchase. I own both and I have a completely different attachment to my Mac. I weighed the negative and the positive and the negatives, for me, significantly outweighed the positives. When I purchased my MBP, I was so happy, I fairly skipped out of the store with it. My PC purchases, laptops and desktops, were made based on cost only. I needed a computer and didn't have the money to get what I really wanted. After owning PCs I soon went back to the Mac because I finally realized i NEEDED a computer that worked; that includes OS and the computer.
Yes competition can be a positive force. It keeps companies from becoming complacent and it can drive innovation and force down prices. Nothing wrong with it and in this case, it's actually entertaining. :-)