Microsoft COO Kevin Turner claims during the Worldwide Partner Conference that Apple asked him to pull Microsoft's ads emphasizing the inexpensiveness of PCs over Macintoshes. Continuing the competition, Microsoft plans to launch retail stores in fall 2009, some of which will be located in close proximity to Apple stores.
After months of staying relatively silent on the issue, Microsoft
has decided to trumpet what it perceives as its growing strength in the Mac versus
This represents something of a switch for Microsoft, which stayed notably
subdued in 2008 as Apple
pounded away with its own "Get A Mac" ad
campaign, starring comedian John Hodgman as the stodgy human version of a PC
and actor Justin Long as a hipster Mac.
Microsoft's retaliatory campaign, however, came on the heels of a global
economic meltdown, and emphasized the relative inexpensiveness of PCs-something
that audiences seemed to respond to in positive way. Those ads, at least
according to Kevin Turner, Microsoft's chief operating officer, also drew an
irate response from Apple.
"Two weeks ago we got a call from the Apple legal department saying, 'Hey'-this
is a true story-saying, 'Hey, you need to stop running those ads, we lowered
our prices,'" Turner said in a July 15 speech at the Worldwide Partner
Conference in New Orleans. "They took like $100 off or something."
Turner added, "It was the greatest single phone call in the history
that I've ever taken in business. I did cartwheels down the hallway. At first I
said, 'Is this a joke? Who are you?'"
What would a Microsoft store look like? Click here to see eWEEK's guesses.
Turner framed the Oct. 22 release of Windows 7 as "an incredible
opportunity for us to fight back."
He said, "It feels really good to be on the offensive here. We're doing
stuff and we're in the game and continuing to take some of these hard market-share
opportunities head-on and compete because it's a test of will."
Part of that competition will revolve around new Microsoft retail stores due
to open in fall of 2009, some of which will be located in close geographical
proximity to Apple stores. The Microsoft retail stores may closely resemble the
Center that opened in Redmond,
Wash., in 2008, which offered products such
as the Zune in a Best Buy-style box store format.
Turner's comments echoed those of Microsoft
CEO Steve Ballmer, delivered a day earlier at WPC.
"All of our research shows that our 'I'm a PC' ads-that talk
dramatically about the price of Macintoshes-work quite effectively,"
Ballmer said during a Q&A session immediately following his July 14 keynote
speech. "We've gained market share quite effectively against Apple over
the past six to nine months."
Microsoft could indeed have the ability to build some marketplace momentum
heading into the second half of 2009, particularly with regard to competing
against Apple hardware and software.
"Windows 7 is going to reduce the experience gap between the two OSes
significantly, and Apple has already fired its best bullets," Roger Kay,
an analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates, wrote in an e-mail to eWEEK.
"Also, the PC hardware OEMs have learned from Apple on the design front,
diminishing the hardware gap as well.
"I would say the winds are shifting in Microsoft's favor," Kay
Within the U.S. PC market, Apple's share has declined from 9 percent in the
third quarter of 2008 to 7.4 percent in the first quarter of 2009, according to
a research note from Gartner. However, Apple's bottom line continues to be
substantially buoyed by iPhone and iPod sales; on April 22, Apple announced its
best-ever results for a non-holiday fiscal quarter, having shipped 2.2 million
Macs on top of 11.01 million iPods and 3.7 million iPhones.
In June, Apple
reported selling more than 1 million iPhone 3GS smartphones in the first three
On the PC front, however, Microsoft is aiming to solidify
or even gain market share with the release of Windows 7 on Oct. 22. Both
consumers and business volume purchasers will be targeted for massive price
cuts and promotional offers as Microsoft attempts to push the operating system
worldwide as fast as possible.