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Thoughts on the Microsoft “Cheap PC” Ad

March 31, 2009 | 2 Minute Read

So there was this Microsoft ad that came out during an NCAA game. It featured a cute girl, Lauren, trying to decide which computer to buy. The voice of the ad (some omniscient being?) told her if she could find the kind she wanted under $1000 he’d buy it for her. The computer she wanted at the Apple Store was too expensive. She chose a Windows PC instead for $700.

A lot of people have claimed the ad is a huge success. It hits Apple in its weak point: price. That may be true, but there’s also this thing called “value.” Apple computers have always been about quality. Software quality, build quality, design. While it’s true that the upfront costs of a Mac are higher than a PC, you get what you pay for. There are tradeoffs associated with buying an HP versus a Macbook. The specs are not the computer.

I would argue that the amortized price of a Mac is probably about the same as a PC (or better). They’re built to last (even if Apple forces you to buy a new one every year or face inferiority). I’ve gone through too many Dell, HP and Toshiba laptops whose hinges explode. You can’t use a laptop after the hinge explodes. I haven’t had a Macbook explode yet (though the plastic did start coming off; it won’t happen on my aluminum Macbook Pro). Dell is trying to get into the premium PC market, which is great. But that sorta negates the price argument. In this economy it’s smart to play the price card, and people pay more attention to upfront costs than maintenance costs.

Also, it’s not the best idea to try and sell your product by having a “real” person shop for PCs when the person turns out to be a professional (SAG) actress. It makes it seem more staged; this definitely is not a Pepsi Challenge. But hey, whatever. I think MS got their point across. Plus I forgive Lauren because she’s way cute! I just hope her back can handle lugging around a 17″ computer.

Personally, I would advertise netbooks since they’re super cheap and Apple doesn’t have an equivalent, yet.