As a Mactard (a name given to me by one of you readers), I kind of snubbed my nose at the latest Microsoft commercial, you know, the one featuring a gal named Lauren who had only $1,000 to spend on a laptop. As a Mac guy, clearly I'm biased when it comes to this whole PC vs. Mac debate. (Techmeme)
For this commercial, though, I've got to give Microsoft some props for focusing the message around price - especially in this economic environment. Macs are expensive. That's a fact - and I would never argue with anyone who says you can't buy a Mac laptop without dropping more than $1,000. These days, there's absolutely nothing wrong with making a purchasing decision based solely on price.
Clearly, though, Lauren really wanted a Mac - otherwise she wouldn't have started her shopping adventures at an Apple store (which she mistakenly calls a Mac store). Plenty of people - myself included - have walked out of Apple Stores empty-handed because the premium price was just too much. There's no shame in saying you can't afford something. I'd like to take my family on a European vacation this summer but that's really not in our budget - so we'll keep saving and maybe spend a few days somewhere closer to home instead.
Lauren probably needed a computer right away and didn't have the time to save more money. So, she settled for what she could afford - "settled" being the key word. After all, that's what she did, right? If Apple had had a laptop in her price range, she probably would have bought it. Maybe the slogan for Microsoft's campaign should have been: When you need to settle for cheap, buy Windows.
I love how the commercial ends with Lauren holding the laptop's box and saying "I'm a PC and I got just what I wanted." Are you sure, Lauren? You haven't opened the box yet and bloggers are quick to point out the flaws with the machine you just dropped $700 to buy. Seth Weintraub over at Computerworld, for example, called that particular laptop "the epitome of what people dislike about PCs." Specifically, he highlights:
- It runs Windows Vista Home on a slow AMD processor. (The price jumps $150 for Vista Pro)
- One reviewer has called the screen on this particular PC "abysmal."
- It's loaded with trial software that likely will needed to be wiped off the machine.
- The networking is old - 802.11g WiFi and 100Mb Ethernet. Weintraub writes, "2004 called. It wants its motherboard back."
- And there were a few slams against battery life, size and weight, too.
- Mary Jo Foley: Microsoft ad: 'I'm just not cool enough to be a Mac person'
- Jason D. O'Grady: Microsoft's new "price" television commercial
- Adrian Kingsley-Hughes: Microsoft's "I'm just not cool enough to be a Mac person" ad tries to kick Apple where it hurts