And is Alex Boguski the new iPod killer? These are some of the questions suggested by the comments to a post by Spike Jones at Brains on Fire a couple of weeks ago. I found myself reading in fascination and remembering that article in Fast Company magazine. My thinking is that Microsoft can make itself cool by making products that individuals want and by discovering what the company (and brand) wants to be when it grows up.
As we discussed here in a post not long ago, there is opportunity for the software giant to begin to ride a different image, a window of opportunity, that is, if you'll pardon the pun. Microsoft hired the agency famous for testing the edges of brand boundaries for the likes of Volkswagen, Virgin Atlantic, and BMW's Mini Cooper. Crispin, Porter + Boguski is to run its new $300M consumer-branding campaign.
Taking a Bite out of the Apple?
As someone who just switched a lifetime of personal computing use to Mac, I appreciate the enormous challenge that making people switch the other way around would present. It would take almost an act of the gods, if not one of hubris, to insist on comparing - the two operating systems alone are such different experiences. In the end, experience is what counts, isn't it?
It happens to the best of companies. As they get bigger and their businesses become more diversified, they lose their edge, their focus. But here's my question to you, has Microsoft lost its focus? Or is this simply a case of going for one in the first place?
The Spoofs are Popular Because they Reflect Experience
Not the other way around. The deciding factor in my switch, in addition to three system crashes all on PC, was one look at Vista. I posted one of the many commercials you will find on YouTube if you search "Mac vs. PC." The message is quite simple, but the reason for its popularity is that it matches experience. It's not that people who buy Macs don't ever encounter problems. They (we) do.
The main point of connection with an Apple product, in addition to undisputed better design and usability, is the whole customer experience. From the store reps, to the online and on phone support - it's all integrated and consistent.
Are we Comparing Apple to Oranges?
It's interesting to note than Apple makes the machines and the software that runs them, while Microsoft is in the software business and relies on other companies to run it on their machines - Dell, HP, Gateway, etc. Whether it relies or banks on them is for another conversation. The final product is a joint effort on a much larger scale, one that favors the consumer on pricing.
Since we are indeed comparing Apple to a company that operates within a different model and scope, we might take a moment to ponder how it is even possible to think the two are comparable.
Microsoft should focus on the the things it does well. This may mean discovering what they are, or it may very well mean taking the credit they should take for those they already know about, as Sean Ammirati observed.
I guess we'll have to see what Boguski harvests this summer. "It's part of your job as a marketer to find the truths in a company, and you let them shine through in whatever weird way it might be," he said. Now that I am looking forward to finding out.