The famous Get A Mac ad campaign lambasted Microsoft’s shortcomings though career fuddy-duddy John Hodgman and focused on the Mac’s ease of use with a casual and comforting Justin Long. Today the tables have turned. It is Microsoft as the underdog, Microsoft taking the game to Apple, and the battle lines are drawn by the ‘bug chicks‘ TV commercials.
The Touchscreen Difference
Here’s the deal. Way back in the day Apple was unafraid to call out the differences between Macs and Windows PCs. As the iPod grew, as the iPhone launched Apple beyond Microsoft’s wealth and status, something happened. The touchscreen. Sure, touchscreens had been around awhile but Apple’s iconic iPhone made them a thing.
Then along came the iPad, little more than a very large screen iPhone but without the phone. Apple decided that handheld devices needed a touchscreen and a finger and nothing more. The Mac remained a Mac and a Mac notebook carried the past into the future with advancements in the trackpad, but little else.
Meanwhile, Microsoft floundered about for years while Apple grew rich and comfortable. In a move of desperation, Microsoft fired the CEO and brought in another to move the company into the future and the future was touchscreens. Well, actually, the future was differentiation, and about all Microsoft could come up with that differentiated Windows notebooks from the Mac– beyond price; Windows is the cheap PC brand– was a touchscreen.
Today, Windows PCs come with a touchscreen and the Mac comes with a trackpad.
The ‘bug chicks’ television commercial highlights, in an Apple-like ad, how a Windows notebook with a touchscreen makes a Mac user jealous. We’ve seen similar advertising from Microsoft in recent years, comparing a table to a MacBook, and comparing a notebook to an iPad. Not exactly apples to Apples but that’s the way things work in the ad game.
What about the touchscreen revolution pushed forward by Apple’s iPhone and iPad?
Does a touchscreen make sense for a traditional notebook, even one with a detachable keyboard? Yes. And no. As a notebook, ‘bug chicks’ notwithstanding, the touchscreen just doesn’t get used much. Windows touchscreen notebooks don’t get used much as tablets, either, detachable or attachable keyboard notwithstanding.
Just as carpal tunnel syndrome inflicted pain upon traditional computer users and their fingers and wrist, so too does a touchscreen on a notebook or desktop PC meet with resistance from the user because of the heavy physical effort required to use the touchscreen.
Microsoft and most PC makers which push Windows 10 do not make a tablet in the sense of Apple’s iPad. Instead, the devices are merely inexpensive notebooks with a full version of Windows installed. Those same hybrid devices usually are heavier than tablets, have lower battery life, often require an attachable keyboard to be useful (Windows is not the friendliest touchscreen OS), and have far fewer applications available from which to choose than iPads.
That said, note that a touchscreen Windows PC notebook compares favorably to any Mac notebook or any iPad or other tablet-sized device thanks to the touchscreen differentiator. In product marketing, differentiation is a key component of success, and the touchscreen on a PC or notebook is clever differentiation when compared to the Mac, just as running full Photoshop on Windows in a tablet is a clever differentiation when compared to the iPad.
Real world usage is a different matter. Look around at the PC users you see at homes, offices, schools, or anywhere. How many use their new touchscreen devices as tablets? How many use the same devices as traditional notebook PCs and avoid the touchscreen. That unscientific but obvious research compares miserably to how iPads get used which explains why tablet usage is higher among iPad users than all other tablet devices combined.