Marketing Wars – Microsoft vs. Apple

Apple marketed the iPad with imagery of how you could enjoy using the product (lifestyle) vs. Microsoft who advertised the functionality of the product (design).
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Marketing wars apple vs microsoft

The power of Lifestyle Marketing

The ultimate goal of a marketing effort would be to convince people that otherwise wouldn’t buy your product to instead buy it by the mass.

We’re in an era where technology and media are easily accessible to the mass, so the old method of product-focused marketing just won’t cut it anymore. Just ask Microsoft…

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Simon Sinek, AUTHOR

Think Apple vs. Microsoft in the early tablet wars. After each tablet was initially launched and registered their first year of sales, there was a clear winner and a big-time loser. Let’s learn why.


Welcome to the Tablet Marketing Wars of early 2010’s

Apple iPad vs. Microsoft Surface

Same product (pretty much), different marketing tactics.

The Marketer vs. The Engineer

Marketing the Lifestyle of the product vs. Marketing the functionality Product


The Microsoft Way

Now this is one bad-ass TV commercial. The tunes get me amped up and the product visualizations were ground breaking especially back in early 2010’s. Honestly I loved this commercial.. but wait… I am a gadget obsessed design dude, so obviously I loved this spot and appreciated the camera work.

But let’s go back to the task at hand for apple and Microsoft: sell more units than your opponent. Aka market this product to the masses, aka the general public…

Results: Microsoft Surface sold 3.5 million units year 1


The Apple Way

Apple created a product for the general public, the iPad, and abandoned the “technological design and functionality” concept and sold the story of  “hey, we took the iPod that everybody loves and uses daily, and made a bigger screen version of your entertainment device”.  Apple focused their marketing efforts on how this product can enhance your lifestyle: “watch movies, send emails, read books on bigger screen – aka better your lifestyle”. Never once did they try allude to the complicated technology functionality to lure in a buyer.

Results: Apple iPad sold 57 million units in same period as the first year of Microsoft Surface


Differences in Marketing Strategy

Apple marketed the iPad with imagery of how you could enjoy using the product vs. Microsoft who advertised solely the functionality/features of the product.

So why was Apple so dominate in the Consumer realm of tablet sales?

  1. Microsoft limited their marketing efforts by solely educating the public of the complex technological features and functionality of the product.
  2. Their marketing campaigns were obviously led by a group of highly educated computer engineers (aka nerds) who understood the technology and assumed that the general public would understand and use the product similarly.
  3. Had Microsoft done their research and discovered that the largest Market Segmentation of their customer base was not technologically advanced in 2012, nor did the average consumer understand what a 1.7 GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 4 chipset with 2 GB of RAM meant, so why did they insist on tech specifications in their marketing materials to lure in first-time tablet buyers.
  4. Apple decided to appeal to a much larger and generic audience and chose a direction that the largest customer segmentation in 2010’s could relate too: bigger screen to watch movies on your tablet (iPad) vs. what you already own (the iPod). They also alluded to the many various activities one could perform on the iPad.
  5. Apple’s genius camera position of “using the iPad as if the viewer was using it” helped portray the many uses of the iPad to anyone at home watching the commercial. Personalizing the user experience with the viewer.

Marketing the lifestyle of using the product

Both the Apple tablet and the Microsoft tablet performed the exact same functions. But rather than market the functionality/design of the product itself (Microsoft), Apple took the perspective to showcase how the iPad could enhance your lifestyle while carrying-out all your daily activities as you normally would.

Apple understood Market Segmentation and realized how to reach their audience with a message that resonated with the masses ” Here’s how you can use the iPad and how it will improve your current lifestyle”.

Apple marketed lifestyle, while Microsoft marketed the engineering genius behind the product.

Same product. Differences in Marketing. Which did you buy?