Yesterday, John Gruber linked to a new piece by Microsoft tech pundit Paul Thurrott, insightfully titled “$500 million in advertising??? Did I use the Jump the Shark joke already?” Herein Thurrott once again fails to intelligently relate facts to logic and reason when conveying a message to his audience. Let’s translate from Thurrott-speak to logic and reason.
Upfront disclaimer: the opinions expressed in the post below are solely my own and do not reflect the opinion of my employer or any other company or group I am affiliated with.
Apple has spent the last 2+ years mocking Windows Vista in advertising. God knows what they’ve spent on these ads over this time, but whatever.
I have the figures for Apple’s advertising budget here but I’m going to feign ignorance to inflate them in your mind first.
Microsoft, to their detriment, failed to respond to these ads for almost two years. They did, however, spend this time improving Vista, most notably with Service Pack 1 (SP1) and the many other updates that shipped before and since. It’s worth noting, too, that the biggest problems with Vista were caused by third parties in the Windows ecosystem, but whatever.
Microsoft failed to figure out why these ads were a success while their own attempts failed one after another. I’ll also blame the third-party developers for Microsoft’s ineptitude.
This year, finally, Microsoft decided to respond to Apple’s ads—many of which made untrue claims, by the way—with their own series of ads.
Apple’s advertisements weren’t 100% true and this deeply offended me, but
The Empire Struck Back!
These include The Mohave Experiments ads,
…with a controlled experiment painted off as scientific which really just reaffirmed that one needs a personal Microsoft expert to help you make sense of Vista.
the Gates/Seinfeld series,
A few ads with a celebrity that totally failed to restore their image despite only tangentially touching upon this subject.
and, of course, the excellent I’m A PC ads, which celebrate the diversity of the one billion plus PC users worldwide and what they accomplish every day with Windows.
And, of course, the highly uninspired copy-cat I’m a PC ads, which celebrate the diversity of the one billion plus PC users worldwide and what they accomplish every day despite Windows.
These latter ads, especially, make the Apple “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads look arrogant and out of touch. Because they are.
Politics have shown that if you just accuse your opponent of your own flaws often enough, you may get people to believe you.
Apple responded, as only they can, with more “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads. (Hey, stick to what you know.)
Apple responded by making more of the ads that have thus far proven to be extremely successful, and I want you to think this is somehow a stupid move on their part.
These included some ads that focused, inexplicably, on Microsoft’s advertising campaigns and how the software giant should have spent that money—$300 million, supposedly, though Microsoft has never confirmed that number—on “fixing Vista” instead of advertising. As noted above, Microsoft had “fixed” Vista a long long time before the ads appeared.
Microsoft says that Windows Vista’s Beta period is over with the release of Service Pack 1 so Apple’s ads are no longer true, nyah nyah!
And as I noted at the time, too, maybe Apple itself should have fixed its own incredibly buggy recent products—MobileMe, iPhone/iPhone 3G, and Leopard among them—instead of hypocritically and falsely calling out a competitor.
Besides, Apple should fix that incredibly broken iPhone of theirs which tops the Customer Satisfaction chart on smart phones with a 9% gap between it and the number 2 (RIM).
(The Apple Way, incidentally, is ship first, ask questions later. Apple customers are all beta testers. It’s the reverse of how tech products are typically developed.)
Unlike Microsoft and its Windows Service Packs, it’s Apple that releases products that are in beta. Totally not like Microsoft. Vista SP2 anyone?
Well, guess what?
Guess what? I had the numbers all along!
Apple spent $486 million on advertising last year, $467 million the year before, and $338 million in 2006.
I’m about to point out that Apple’s advertising budget last year was about half of Microsoft’s but first I want you to think that this is a really big number.
Here’s the thing. Microsoft and Apple both spend a ton of money on advertising. They’re both big companies with big reach. Of course, Microsoft has more reach globally while Apple plays mostly in the US and other rich nations, which actually puts the numbers in even better perspective. But if the notion of Apple actually producing insider ads—in which it rags on a competitor for, get this, advertising—ads that, by the way, the typical consumers who seem them won’t even get—didn’t rile you at the time, they should now that we know how much it spent.
Microsoft is a bigger company and has more products and advertises in more countries around the world and I’m going to butcher this sentence by using two em dash-separated interludes stuck together and wahhhh, Steve Jobs said my favorite company sucked.
BTW, Microsoft spent $959.5 million in advertising last year. But then they’re considerably bigger than Apple, compete in far more product segments, and are in far more markets worldwide. So that makes sense.
Oh and just by the way, Microsoft spent twice as much on advertising but it’s okay, they have more products to talk about and not get any mindshare for. See, they have to compensate for all that lack of interest in their products with more advertising. It makes sense.
And let’s be clear: That budget is for all of the company’s many products but didn’t include any Windows advertising at all.
And to confuse you entirely I’m going to make a completely outrageous claim or simply fail to tell you that what I actually meant is that there’s a separate, unmentioned advertising budget for Windows only that even further skyrockets this nearly-one-billion-dollar figure.
If Microsoft did spend $300 million on advertising Windows this year, that was a first.
I don’t know how much Microsoft spent on advertising Windows but I’m sure it wasn’t much at all.
And it must have spent about, what?, $17 to $19 (not a typo, just a joke) advertising Windows Mobile and Zune combined in the past year. Those are the only two other Microsoft products that compete with Apple products.
The Zune and Windows Mobile have failed in the market only because Microsoft didn’t spend anything advertising these products, instead it spent all that money on, uhm, fixing them. No wait, they weren’t broken. It’s just the lack of advertising.
So. Apple spent more on ads over the past three years at least than Microsoft did on its competitive products. And it was Apple, not Microsoft, that then released ads mocking the other company … for spending money advertising.
I’m cherry-picking words to completely fabricate the truth and make it look like Apple actually outspent Microsoft on advertising even though it didn’t.
Pot. Kettle. Black.
Male cow. Feces. Me.
Many thanks to Paul Thurrott for providing a good laugh on this cold Monday morning.