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Microsoft, welcome! It’s been too long, how are you? How’s Windows 8.1 doing? That’s great to hear. I made coffee, please come in. Feel free to pull up a chair, I’ll be just a minute. I’ve got cookies.
Microsoft: we need to talk. Yes, it’s about those Scroogle ads. No, I don’t think they’re funny, and no: I don’t think Google is worried about them.
The Pawn Stars Problem
Yeah, I saw the ad with the Pawn Stars guy. Here’s your coffee, let’s watch it together quickly.
It’s okay so far as corporate propaganda goes, but here’s the thing: Chromebooks make up a tiny percentage of the already-shrinking laptop market. By making an ad attacking Google for Chromebooks, you’re kind of admitting you see them as a threat.
Don’t laugh, Microsoft. I know making ads with personalities from inappropriately named cable stations isn’t free. You wouldn’t spend the money on some niche product with no chance of success: you’re trying to stomp the Chromebook out because you think it could be huge. Otherwise, why bother?
I understand that not everyone can be online all the time – I really do. Chromebooks aren’t for everyone, which is why one of the journalists you quote on your website uses a Mac.
Seems like you’ve got no problem with Macs, and why would you: it’s capable of running Office. But here’s the thing: so is a Chromebook. You offer an online version of your software, and the only reason it doesn’t work offline is because you haven’t built that function yet.
Now I understand why you don’t do that – why help Google’s platform? But it’s confusing: one minute you’re putting out ads about how great your cloud is, the next you pretend it doesn’t exist.
Don’t leave, Microsoft. I’m only saying this because I’m concerned.
What If Google Did The Same Thing?
Imagine if Google put out an ad, tomorrow, with the same format. An attractive woman is trying to figure out the value of their Windows phone on, say, Antiques Roadshow. The expert examines the phone for far too long with an eyepiece, then laughs off camera.
“This is one of those Nokia Luminas,” he says, derisively. “It’s a relatively new form of phone that’s called Windows, but can’t run traditional Windows software. Which would be fine, but the app store it does offer has a pitiful selection! And the email client…”
The banter continues, then Google throws in some stupid catch-phrase that doesn’t quite work. Like “Don’t get Microbricked!” Or “more like Microhard! You get the idea: something stupid, like your thing.
Google could shoot that ad tomorrow, but they don’t. Because Windows Phone isn’t anything close to a threat to Android right now, and they know such an ad would hurt Google more than Microsoft.
Google’s entry in the laptop market may compete with PCs. I’m not sure it’s trying to, but let’s pretend it is. And I know you’re trying to compete with Android. But when it comes to phones, you’re Apple circa the early 90s: plenty of flash but really far behind on the developers front.
No, don’t leave. I know it hurts but you need to hear this.
About Those Mugs…
So not only do you run an entire web site devoted to mocking Google: you also sell merchandise.
I’ll admit it: I hate what the Internet did to “Keep Calm”, so I’m not thrilled about these mugs on that level. But I’m also confused: who is going to buy these things? Who feels so passionately about their dislike for Google, yet is fine with a company that for a decade exploited its monopoly status to kill competing companies? Whose conspiracy to destroy open source is well documented? Who is one of the top investors in Facebook?
Maybe people are dumb. Maybe people have no memory. It certainly seems like you think so.
Look, I get it: you’re a business. You need to make money. People are buying fewer PCs in favor of tablets – and not, for the most part, the tablets you make. You thought about attacking Apple, but people love Apple way too much – and the company has billions sitting around, ready for counter-ads. Best not mess with them.
So you go after Google, a company that’s only your direct competitor in fields you’re doing pitifully in. It makes sense. But pretending like you’re some objective party, pointing out truths people don’t see? And that you, a major investor in Facebook, don’t know a thing or two about mining personal data?
It’s just stupid, Microsoft. And everyone knows it.
You’re Better Than This
You’re right, maybe you should go. But let me say one more thing.
I guess what I like about tech is that, ultimately, it’s all about what works. People love using their PCs to access Google services, so what’s the problem? It’s not as though your free search and email services are somehow magically programmed to be profitable without advertising.
And if you’re such hardcore privacy advocates, why is there no similar campaign about the other privacy-redefining behemoth in the room: Facebook? Could it be your 1.6 per cent ownership of that company ($1.36 billion)?
You think that was out of line? Why? How is anything you or Facebook do any more noble than Google? Want to prove some kind of point? Remove all ads from Bing and Outlook.com, and make them subscription services. If people don’t want ads, they’ll switch.
That’s insane, of course: people love free things. That’s why you’re doing this in the first place: you’ve seen the future, and you don’t like it. Here’s the thing: I don’t like it either. I hate ads, and want someone to think of something better. You might be able to do that, but you’re distracted.
Want to beat Google? Build Something Better
Want to beat Google? Do what they did. Google made a search product so much better than anything that existed before it that the entire world switched over in a couple of years. There was no advertising in the early days, just word of mouth. If you really want to bury Google, use the money you’re putting into these dumb ads into a product that’s better than theirs. Make something magnificent, something that puts Google to shame, and people will flock to it. It worked for Apple with the iPhone, and it will work for you.
Fix the things missing from Windows Phone, and stop with the Scroggled thing. It makes us see you as a sleazy politician, and that’s the last thing you want to be perceived as right now.
Image credit: Chromebook Photo by Carol Rucker