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Microsoft didn't take kindly to Apple's recent digs

In a blog post not-so-subtly titled "Apples and Oranges", Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) VP of Communications Frank Shaw gave comment on rival Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) recent announcement that iWork (Apple's Office software suite) would be included free with its new iPad/iPad Mini tablets.

I. Flame On

Not surprisingly Mr. Shaw wasn't overly impressed, commenting:

Seems like the RDF (Reality Distortion Field) typically generated by an Apple event has extended beyond Cupertino.

Note: If you are the TL;DR type, let me cut to the chase. Surface and Surface 2 both include Office, the world’s most popular, most powerful productivity software for free and are priced below both the iPad 2 and iPad Air respectively.

Making Apple’s decision to build the price of their less popular and less powerful iWork into their tablets not a very big (or very good) deal.


....Microsoft understands how people work better than anyone else on the planet...We literally wrote the book on getting things done. 

And so it’s not surprising that we see other folks now talking about how much “work” you can get done on their devices. Adding watered down productivity apps. Bolting on aftermarket input devices. All in an effort to convince people that their entertainment devices are really work machines.

In that spirit, Apple announced yesterday that they were dropping their fees on their “iWork” suite of apps. Now, since iWork has never gotten much traction, and was already priced like an afterthought, it’s hardly that surprising or significant a move. And it doesn’t change the fact that it’s much harder to get work done on a device that lacks precision input and a desktop for true side-by-side multitasking.
...

So, when I see Apple drop the price of their struggling, lightweight productivity apps, I don’t see a shot across our bow, I see an attempt to play catch up.

Frank Shaw

Of course his comment overlooks the fact that most Windows 8.1 tablets don't include Office.  And it also is somewhat ironic that he espouses standardization in Office as a selling point, when Microsoft was long accused of fighting or otherwise trying to subvert standards to make Office documents compatible with open source alternatives (although it's recently come around somewhat).

II. ... But he has some points

However, Office as freebie -- particularly with the $449 USD Surface 2 -- is a pretty good deal.
 

Surface 2 (L) and Surface Pro 2 (R)

And Mr. Shaw is correct that Apple's iWork feature-wise is more comparable to the already free Google Docs (by Google Inc. (GOOG)) than Office; in fact Google Docs is arguably more powerful in that it's cross platform compatible (like Office).  Both Google Docs and iWork will meet the needs of most casual users.  But for many enterprise and power users, moving from Office to these free lighter alternatives is not an option and Microsoft knows that.

Google Docs
Google Docs is more compatible than iWork and also free.

Also it's worth noting that Microsoft didn't start this flame war.  Mr. Shaw's comment comes after Apple CEO Tim Cook at the keynote commented:

Our competition is different: They're confused. They chased after netbooks. Now they're trying to make PCs into tablets and tablets into PCs.  Who knows what they'll do next?"

We have a very clear direction and a very ambitious goal. We still believe deeply in this category and we're not slowing down on our innovation.

Tim Cook snickering
Apple CEO Tim Cook [Image Source: Reuters]

Most perceived the comment to a nameless attack on Microsoft, and to a lesser extent Google, whose Android OS now leads the tablet market.

Source: Microsoft [TechNet]



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RE: Marketing needs to try harder
By Belegost on 10/25/2013 12:23:00 AM , Rating: 2
I see you're trying to write a troll comment. I can help! Let's correct a few things:

"It's a matter of marketing and semantics,but here goes - what value proposition is each company pushing?

MS Surface: It's a tablet for getting on the web, communicating, and consuming content with a keyboard that also can do Microsoft Office for easy access to all your work documents.

Apple iPad: It's a tablet for getting on the web, communicating, and consuming content. Oh yeah, we have a few Office-type apps too, if you need them, but they're not the ones you need for work anyways.

Considering most people already have access to a computer with Office (either at home or at the... office), which pitch sounds more appealing? "

</clippy>


RE: Marketing needs to try harder
By aliasfox on 10/25/2013 2:30:47 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but where in the colorful dancing commercials that MS played for a year does it show me that I can do that? The marketing message was "I'm a tablet, with a keyboard, that has Office." Compare that to iPad ads last year, that showed this app, then this app, then that app, then Facetime, etc. You may not like the product, but it shows you why someone might want to pick one up and try it out. Surface on the other hand, with its keyboard and MS Office... well, who hasn't seen a computer with a keyboard and MS Office already?

When the target audience is zoned out watching Big Bang Theory, the advertisers/marketers need to spoon feed simple messages to get them across. MS very much failed to do that in any convincing way. Sure, everyone knows that a tablet can get on the web - in fact, that's pretty much all they can do. As a marketer though, do you want your customer to have to pause and think before they recognize that fact? Obviously not - if people stopped to think about things, far fewer things would get purchased.


"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer














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