You gotta give Microsoft some credit for not doing the ‘cut and run‘ as often as it could or should. Cut and run? That’s what a company does when it experiences massive losses on a product that fails to generate any notable success in the marketplace.
Yes, I have a few examples. Think Bing, Microsoft’s failed search engine. Bing has marketshare, yes, but no profits to show for the effort to compete against Google.
Here’s another. Microsoft Surface Pro. The company is on version 3 of the powerful notebook tablet hybrid. Earlier versions caused the company to write off nearly a billion dollars and dump hundreds of thousands of Surface Pro models on the market.
For Surface Pro 3 Microsoft decided to spend a fortune on television ads comparing the failed device to Apple’s MacBook and iPad. Losers compare products that are not comparable, but Microsoft is desperate to make a dent in the mobile device industry, so it will say anything and do anything and lose any amount necessary to gain some traction, even if only a little.
The latest is the so-called ‘MacBook Switch‘ ad campaign, a website which walks viewers through the steps needed to switch from a MacBook to a Surface Pro 3. The television commercials and website promo present a compelling comparison of Apple and Microsoft devices.
A compelling message does not success make, and in a few weeks Apple will announce a record quarter for Mac sales, while Microsoft will announce… nothing. The company would be totally embarrassed to announce surface sales numbers because the switch campaign has been yet another failure.
Customers looking for a high end notebook already know the advantages of Apple’s MacBook line of Air and Pro models. Microsoft’s Surface Pro is a decent notebook with high-end features, but fails miserably as a tablet. Worse, it costs about the same as a Mac, which has a sterling reputation, intense media visibility, and simply owns the premium end of the market where Microsoft has shoved the Surface Pro 3.
The argument that a Surface Pro is a better notebook than a Mac because it’s also a tablet falls flat because the targeted market segment is more savvy than those who buy $200 Windows PC notebooks that struggle to compete against $200 Google Chromebooks. They know that what Microsoft offers is more of the same. Windows, Office, an operating system associated with cheap and work, additional maintenance to avoid the plague of malware that plague’s Windows, and will be worth less than a comparable MacBook Air or Pro within a year.
Getting people to switch to a new product require differentiation and delivery of a better experience for less money. Microsoft’s Surface Pro is well differentiated from Apple’s MacBook line, but fails to deliver a better experience. The ad campaign doesn’t even compare apples to Apples. One is a premium notebook. The other is a hybrid device that doesn’t work well as a tablet. Apparently enough customers have figured that out to send the Mac to record sales, while Microsoft remains shy about how many Surface Pro 3 models have been dumped onto the market.