All the noise about Microsoft’s upcoming Surface tablet– the iPad killer– got me to thinking about vaporware again. Both Apple and Microsoft love vaporware (hardware or software products that might exist, but currently doesn’t exist).
Microsoft, which built an enormous fortune by force feeding Windows and Office to an unsuspecting world, is famous for vaporware. Remember the Slate tablet that CEO Steve Ballmer announced about 18 months ago? iPad killer indeed.
That vapor has been replaced by yet another vapor product, the Microsoft Surface. The photos and a few of the specs look great, but nobody except Microsofties have had intimate usage, so it remains properly categorized as vaporware.
What about Apple?
Well, Apple actually ships products they announce, sometimes near the original schedule, but the company’s management of vaporware is more subtle. Apple simply doesn’t deny what exists. And it doesn’t deny what doesn’t exist.
Instead, Apple lets tech pundits and rumor mills and card carrying Apple fandom groupies hype Apple products that may or may not ever see the light of day.
Where’s that 7-inch iPad mini? What about those Retina displays for the iMac? How about that new MacPro? Where’s the iPhone mini that only costs $99?
It’s a different approach, but it’s still vaporware.
The difference is that Microsoft announces their own vaporware, while Apple lets everyone else announce Apple’s vaporware. Well, almost. Remember when FaceTime was going to become an open source standard? That’s a rare example of Apple announcing its own vaporware.
Just as Microsoft Surface groupies are awaiting a price tag for a product that still hasn’t been seen working, Apple fandom awaits the open source FaceTime standard.
Obviously, both Microsoft and Apple agree on the value of vaporware, but differ in how they manage vaporware. Microsoft stumbles and fumbles through new product presentations which leave potential customers frantic with a desire to fill in the obvious gaps.
Apple, meanwhile, ignores most of the fandom created vaporware only to surprise and delight and disappoint all when the imagined product is somehow different than expectations.