Saturday, August 24, 2013

apples and oranges

Paul Krugman looks briefly at some of the implications of the pending Ballmer resignation in a recent column, "On the Symmetry Between Microsoft and Apple".  As he admits up front: "I am not a tech industry maven...".

What Kruman says in the article isn't really wrong, but I think he does ignore the elephant in the room when he does not bring Apple's ad skills to the discussion. This particular asymmetry between Cupertino and Redmond really explains a lot more than the design and performance of their machinery

Take a look, if any are still airing, at the tv ads for Microsoft's tablet.  They feature a bunch of business-attired twenty-somethings juggling Surface tablets around a conference table while doing a loud, hyperkinetic breakdance routine.  It is the silliest damn ad campaign I've ever seen.  I knew at a glance that the Surface was going nowhere.

By comparison, Apple's ads for its mobile devices feature the same age set, but dressed casually.  They are shown snapping pictures of their lives, listening to popular music and doing social networking  -- in short, the kind of things that people actually want to do with mobile devices.

No contest, really.

I think a more interesting case for symmetry can be made between Microsoft and Kodak.  Both enjoyed virtual monopolies based on an appeal to a previously untapped mass market, along with products which could fit into and support a great range of offerings from many other corporate producers.  Kodak's model worked well for about a century, but ultimately failed to adapt to an evolving market.  I'm doubtful that either Microsoft or Apple will be corporate centenarians for many of the same reasons that led to Kodak's demise.

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