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Microsoft whacks Apple with new Surface Pro 3 ads

Gregg Keizer | Aug. 14, 2014
But omits pricing in its compare-and-contrast spots because the Surface costs more than a MacBook Air.

As an example of the latter, Gottheil cited a 2009 ad for the then-new Internet Explorer 8 (IE8). In the ad, a woman borrows her husband's notebook, apparently sees some pornography he had viewed, and then begins an impressive bout of on-screen vomiting. The ad, dubbed "OMGIGP," for "Oh, My God, I'm Gonna Puke," was meant to tout IE8's new "InPrivate Browsing" feature. Wags had long called the feature -- all browsers have them -- "porn mode."

Microsoft pulled the ad about three weeks after it debuted.

By Tuesday, Gottheil had changed his mind on the Surface ads.

"They got a lot of attention," was his explanation for the change of heart. "[The two are] apples and oranges, completely different devices, and the Surface Pro 3 is quite nice and something that someone considering Windows should look at, but not on their way to a MacBook Air."

Although Microsoft had long compared its Surface Pro tablet-slash-notebook to Apple products, initially it stacked its device against the iPad. Somewhere along the way between the original Surface Pro and this year's third-generation revamp, Microsoft veered to another message, one that trumpeted the two-in-one not as a tablet that turned into a notebook, but as a notebook with some tablet characteristics. The difference is critical.

Gottheil surmised that Microsoft dropped the iPad references because of changes in the tablet market: Growth rates have slowed dramatically this year. Researcher IDC, for instance, now predicts that 2014's tablet shipments will be only 12% higher than last year, a major fall-off from 2013's 52% year-over-year gain.

Still, Microsoft is sticking with a now-outdated message, said Gottheil.

"The idea that the tablet was a PC substitute has gone away in the market, in the press and on the part of vendors," Gottheil said. "That's driven sales for both Windows PCs and Macs. That has changed not just for Apple, for its Macs and iPad, but for the entire device market."

Microsoft's turned back the clock and given Apple some of its own medicine by running ads that pit the Surface Pro 3 against the MacBook Air.


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