Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Go bite this ‘Apple’

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It was long due for Microsoft to pursue an aggressive marketing strategy in response to the direct attacks from Apple in the past. Will it hurt Apple?

After the Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts’ coffee combat and the recent Mountain Dew and Vault’s battle, it’s now the turn of the two techies – Microsoft and Apple, to get back in the ring after two years to wrestle it out for a fatter market share. Undoubtedly, the former is a much bigger player amongst the two but there is no denying that Apple has been giving nightmares to Microsoft for almost a decade now.

Microsoft has come up with two TV commercials explaining why it makes more sense to buy a normal PC during these recessionary times, rather than opting for Apple’s Mac, which is more expensive than its competition. It may have a direct impact on Apple’s top lines. Well, it was long due for Microsoft to pursue an aggessive marketing and advertising strategy in response to months and years of marketing attacks on it. Apple’s ‘Mac vs. PC’ commercial is one of the classic examples of its aggressive attacks on Microsoft in the past.

Apple has had nearly an uncontested run at Microsoft’s market share for almost a decade. Microsoft is now contesting and may hamper Apple’s ability to grow its share, provided Microsoft executes this well. Experts have claimed many times that Apple can be a threat to Microsoft’s top position but the long-awaited Microsoft’s reply has reinforced the fact that Apple is undoubtedly Microsoft’s biggest competitor. A US-based technology expert feels, “There has been a brand battle between the two companies and that is intensifying with Apple’s increasing success. Microsoft is obviously the larger player among the two, but it needs to protect its business.”

As far as the effect of the campaign is concerned, it will depend on content accuracy, volume and tone of the commercials. Apple’s campaign succeeded because it used humour to highlight some real operational problems in Microsoft products. “Microsoft will succeed if it addresses the problems highlighted by Apple and at the same time points out some inherent problems in Apple’s product,” says Richard L. Ptak, Managing Partner, Ptak, Noel & Associates.

However, experts fear that the strategy may backfire at Microsoft. The commercials showcase Mac which may give free publicity to Apple. Well, it will be very interesting to see how Apple responds to it. But the road isn’t that smooth here, as Rob Enderle, Principal Analyst, The Enderle Group states “With Steve Jobs on the bench, Apple’s ability to respond to this is more limited than it has been for over a decade and that too will help Microsoft avoid any backlash.”

But there is no denying of the fact that Microsoft has got this one right and timely, which may bring some serious hiccups in Apple’s so far uninterrupted growth path. But if Apple manages to come up with yet another campaign like the first one (Mac Vs Pc), it will not take much time for tables to turn against Microsoft. Ballmer may again have to go back to knock at Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s door (Microsoft’s ad agency for the latest campaign) to get them another campaign aiming at Apple. Well! Whosoever be the winner of this battle, it will be an interesting one to watch.

Pawan Chabra

For more articles, Click on IIPM Article.

Source : IIPM Editorial, 2009

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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