While Apple ad guy Justin Long has proved effective in the past in swaying customers away from Microsoft, Microsoft's Lauren De Long proved even more effective in swaying them back.

Apple (brown) has seen its value perception sink, while Microsoft (blue) has steadily rose since the Laptop Hunter commercials aired.  (Source: Apple Insider)
"This isn't the laptop you're looking for."

Over the last several months, customers have been assailed by new advertising pitches from Apple and Microsoft.  Apple's pitches were attacks on Microsoft's stability and security.  Microsoft's Laptop Hunter commercials, meanwhile, criticized Apple's high prices.  Both sets of commercials had the tech community buzzing.

However, it appears that Microsoft is convincing at least some customers to turn their back on Apple.  A recent survey, dug up by AppleInsider and performed by BrandIndex, found that Microsoft recently overtook Apple in value perception -- a measure of how much value for their money a customer believes they get from a certain brand.

The study began in March, when the first Laptop Hunter ads aired, and it interviewed 5,000 customers.  Microsoft's scores steadily rose over this time period.  In February Apple scored a very high mark of 70, but by May 12, when the study ended, the fruit-branded company had plunged to a lowly score of 12 points (0 represents a neutral opinion). 

Meanwhile, Microsoft went from close to zero to a mark of 46 points.  Ted Marzilli, global managing director for BrandIndex, says that the Microsoft ads helped to lure away the “hip” 18-to-35 crowd who typically favor Apple products.  He says the poor state of the economy combined with Microsoft’s effective attacks on Apple's pricing have produced strong changes in this group's preferences.

He states, "Apple did a great job of putting Microsoft on the defensive.  It made them look old, stodgy, complicated to use and unhip. But Microsoft has started to hit back, and younger folks are more cost- or value-focused."

Apple did, however, manage to tie Microsoft in the 35- to 49-year-old category.

While this study provides an intriguing look at how the commercials may be swaying the easily persuadable, it fails to take into account other factors.  For example, the buzz around Windows 7, Microsoft's new OS, has been steadily growing since a beta was released to the public in January.  Furthermore, even if the study accurately captures shifting public opinion, it remains to be seen if Microsoft can translate this success into product sales.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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