Apple Responds to MS Ads: PCs Are 'No Bargain'

Dennis Faas's picture

Apple recently made its first public comment on ads from Microsoft depicting shoppers that reject Mac computers in favor of PCs. Surprisingly, Apple agrees with some of the ads' conclusions.

Bill Evans, a spokesman for the company, told BusinessWeek that "The one thing that both Apple and Microsoft can agree on is that everyone thinks the Mac is cool." However, he rejects the implication that PCs are better value, arguing "A PC is no bargain when it doesn't do what you want." (Source:

The PC Price Is Right

The Microsoft campaign involves 'ordinary shoppers' who are tasked with buying a computer that fits their needs. The gimmick: if the shoppers succeed in buying a PC within a set budget, Microsoft picks up the tab. All three ads so far have seen the shoppers examine a Mac candidate but reject it as overpriced, despite praising its looks and style.

The ads have sparked widespread debate online about the specific points made. Many commenters have proposed that the shoppers in the ad may be disappointed with the performance, screen size, or battery life of the machines they've decided upon.

In a more controversial part of the campaign, Microsoft has also put out an 11-page study claiming a family buying two Macs rather than two PCs would wind up paying more than $3,000 extra over the following five years. That's not just because of the purchase price, but any extra costs such as support or upgrading the machines.

Tax Loopholes

The costs -- which Microsoft has detailed in a spoof tax return document -- take some liberties.

The most striking is the inclusion of $149 to buy the Mac edition of Microsoft Office, but there is no similar charge for the PC. It turns out Microsoft's figures are based on the cost of switching from a PC (and already owning Office) to a Mac. That may be realistic for the example given, but it's hardly a fair comparison. (Source:

The BusinessWeek article notes that the iBook one woman looks at contains the iLife multimedia software package and that she'd have to pay an extra $340 to even come close to replicating it on a PC. That may be true, but the premise of the ad didn't make any mention of the shopper's software needs; there's no indication that music or video editing was of any importance to her.

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