By Paul Gorski
This is a follow-up article to my post: “Surface Pro 3 ad comparing it to a MacBook Air is a joke,” posted Nov. 25 (https://onedrive.live.com/view.aspx?resid=6F3DB4E7B817C2E1!442&app=Word). That article hit Google News, and seemed to upset many Microsoft Surface Pro 3 fans. To clarify, that article was commenting on a television advertisement for the Surface Pro 3, not a full-blown review. I will review again why the ad is laughable, and I will comment on the specifications on the Surface Pro 3.
There are at least two ads, but I will refer to them as one. The ad in question compares a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (SP3) to a Apple MacBook Air (MBA) in an apparent attempt to get to MacBook Air customers to buy an SP3. The first error in this marketing strategy is that people looking at MacBook Airs are either existing Mac users, comfortable with the Mac OS, or people switching to the Mac OS, not because of the hardware, but because of Windows 8.
There are other potential customers looking at Chromebooks. One would hope someone has explained to these customers that the MacBook Air and Surface Pro 3 are real computers, not simple Internet browsers. An SP3 would be a better choice than a Chromebook.
The second marketing error is that Mac users like simple solutions; that is why they are looking at Macs. The SP3 kickstand is a liability to these users. The removable keyboard, not only a poor substitute for an MBA keyboard, is also a liability to these users. These two “features” are highlighted in the commercial, and scream “I’m not as well integrated as a MacBook Pro!”
The third error is a factual one: the SP3 cannot do everything a MacBook Air can. The SP3 does not have a Thunderbolt expansion port allowing to connect to not only video devices, but all sorts of expansion products. Also, the SP3 does not ship with Apple’s Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps. Personally, I think Keynote rocks and is superior to Microsoft’s PowerPoint, but I am not a big fan of Pages. That said, the MacBook Air cannot run many Windows programs, like MS Access or a real version of QuickBooks, without adding Windows to your Mac.
It is for these reasons the SP3 ad is a joke. Microsoft is trying to prevent Windows switchers from jumping ship to the Mac OS by flaunting hardware in front of these prospective users, rather than addressing the benefits of staying with Windows.
Microsoft should really be worried about Chromebooks and the Chrome OS cutting into Microsoft profit margins. Fortunately, HP has come out with a solid Windows 8.1-based competitor to Chromebooks, the HP Stream (http://store.hp.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/us/en/mlp/Laptops/everyday-laptops). The HP Stream computers are not for everyone, but Windows users looking for something more than a Chromebook or a circa-2011 netbook might want to look at an HP Stream.
Back to the Surface Pro 3. The strength of the SP3 is that it can be a tablet running a full-blown operating system, capable of getting real work done. Not a poorly crafted Samsung tablet running one of a half dozen flavors of Android. The SP3 also has a great screen. I would also heavily advertise free upgrades to Windows 10 for all SP3 customers. They do not have to know most users will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 free anyway.
Tablet sales are taking a dive and PC sales are weak. Microsoft sees positive MacBook Air sales numbers and wants to target those customers. That is just poor marketing. There is still a huge market for folks replacing Windows XP computers and for people wanting more than a simple tablet. That is the market Microsoft needs to target.
Personally, I am in the market for a used laptop with a decent, center-positioned track pad that will run Linux Mint. Probably a MacBook Pro. Read my most recent article regarding Linux Mint at: http://rockrivertimes.com/2014/07/09/tech-friendly-bring-new-life-to-an-old-pc-with-linux-mint/.
Paul Gorski (www.paulgorski.com) has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple lle.
Posted Dec. 2, 2014