Microsoft has been on a roll, taking its fight to Apple with a trio of Laptop Hunter commercials. The commercials were designed by Crispin Porter+Bogusky that show average Joes (or Janes) looking for laptops and choosing PCs over Macs, while casting aspersions on the Macs in a purportedly unbiased independent study. The first ad, with Laptop Hunter Lauren, still has yet to be surpassed in popularity, but all the commercials resonate on some level with customers who are less willing to pay the luxury prices associated with Apple-brand models.
However, Apple and its supporters won't go down quietly. Business Week's Arik Hesseldahl, along with an Apple spokesperson have called out the Windows supporters in the tech community arguing that they don't understand quality and economics, and that they are picking inferior machines. He writes, "Yes, $699 beats the $2,800 you'd pay for a Mac with a 17-in. screen. But when it comes to PCs, there's still a great deal more to buy."
He says that antivirus software needed to protect PCs against "nasty viruses, worms, and other malware lurking on the Internet" is another $50/year in expenses. He says that Lauren will end up paying $150 over 3 years for such protection. He writes, "No need for antivirus on the Mac."
Of course, Apple recently recommended its users purchase an antivirus program and the platform is becoming increasingly vulnerable to application level exploits, so this isn't entirely accurate, but that doesn't stop Mr. Hesseldahl as he tacks on more charges. He equates an out-of-warranty service with Best Buy's Geek Squad ($129) with a free diagnosis at the Genius Bar in Apple's retail stores.
He tacks on more fees for the iLife software suite. He says that Lauren's machine comes with Muvee Reveal ($80) and CyberLink DVD suite ($104), but that there's lots missing. He says a PC equivalent of iLife would also require a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements with Photoshop.com Plus membership ($140), Sonic Solutions' Roxio Creator 2009 ($100) and the Garage Band-equivalent Cubase Sequel ($100).
He adds up these extras ($619), with the cost of the computer ($699), and writes, "Add it all up and it's not hard to imagine Lauren's $699 computer costing something closer to $1,500."
While the math is a bit curious he does offer some technically accurate points, arguing that features like battery life (8 hrs. versus 2.5 hrs. for the HP, by his estimates) and superior screen make the 17-inch MacBook Pro (his model of choice) more than worth the $1,000+ difference between it and the Windows notebook with his extras tacked on.
He concludes, "Even if Lauren doesn't care about pixels and multimedia software, her machine still doesn't measure up when it comes to overall consumer satisfaction. No less an authority than Consumer Reports rated Lauren's computer fourth in a class of six with 17- to 18-in. displays. The MacBook Pro was tops, despite its higher price."
And to top it off, he gets word from Apple itself blasting the new commercials. An Apple spokesperson, Bill Evans, comments, "A PC is no bargain when it doesn't do what you want. The one thing that both Apple and Microsoft can agree on is that everyone thinks the Mac is cool. With its great designs and advanced software, nothing matches it at any price."
Microsoft declined to respond to Apple's statement.
Mr. Hesseldahl concludes with more select comments, stating, "Microsoft and its hardware partners wouldn't have to make this case had they focused less in the past decade on driving prices down and more on quality.... PC makers in the Windows camp have done everything possible to make their products progressively worse by cutting corners to save pennies per unit and boost sales volume. There's good reason Apple is seeing healthy profits while grabbing market share. It refuses to budge on quality and so charges a higher price. Rather than running ads that seem clever at first but really aren't, the Windows guys ought to take the hint and just build better computers."