Microsoft renews effort against Apple

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Microsoft has released a fresh salvo against Macs. This time around they have taken banners on The New York Times website (Apple did the same last year by taking over the front page of NYT). The banner asks you to spin a wheel which shows up a Macbook or Macbook Pro alongside a ‘similar’ PC. The punch is supposed to be in the extras that you can get with either purchase. For example a if you choose a Macbook Pro costing US$ 2799, you can get you a Lenovo Y730, a Zune 8GB and 365 lattes. But with a Macbook Pro you have money left only for paper clip and pocket lint:)

Just the kind of argument that will be lapped up by the Windows-dominated world. It rings true because Windows based PC’s are generally cheaper – especially true in India (it’s been proven that with like-to-like features & applications a PC can cost as much as a Mac). The strategy is clever because saying ‘Macs cost more’ is less dramatic than saying ‘With a PC you will have money left to buy a lot more’. After all who doesn’t like money to be stretched? But what is conveniently left out unsaid is what you get with a Mac and a PC respectively.

There’s also a campaign recruiting volunteers – it picked 10 people who answered a call for volunteers on Craigslist and other Web sites and sent them out with a camera crew and budgets ranging from $700 to $2,000. If they found a computer that fit their criteria, they could keep it. The first commercial in the series features a college grad who goes hunting for a 17-inch notebook with a comfortable keyboard, but with a budget of $1000. The first location she appears to stop is a ‘Mac Store’ (!), but the scene quickly switches to her walking right back out and explaining that the only sub-$1000 notebook provided a 13-inch screen. "I’m just not cool enough to be a Mac person," she says. The ad does not go into any details about the hardware specs of the HP notebook, aside from the screen size.

I can understand ‘make your money work hard’ tack during hard times. The big mouthed Steve Ballmer said recently: "Apple gained about one point, but now I think the tide has really turned back the other direction. The economy is helpful. Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment — same piece of hardware — paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that’s a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be."

Sigh. The same old. Same old. Drilling in that Macs are over priced and the extra that you are shelling is for aesthetics, cool quotient and nothing more. The argument can never be one. Chek out the comments over at YouTube and And Microsoft admitting that Apple is cool? That’s a first. By the way, why is a 90% share player giving credence to competition which is 6% share in the US and negligible on a worldwide scale? Who is behaving like a leader?

Update: According to 9 to 5 Mac, the ad is staged. They also tell you what you get with a $699 17-inch notebook. And Fortune has a nice take on it all. It sure is getting the Apple fans worked up – 237 comments on the Fortune article!

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