1984 Backwards?

How's this for a flip? Sunday's New York Times Magazine ran an article called "AntiPod," which speculates about what makes people buy Microsoft's Zune digital music player instead of an Apple iPod. The main thesis of the article is that many people are buying the Microsoft product simply because it isn't an iPod. Given the history of Apple and Microsoft, that's really ironic.

At 70% market share, the iPod is the big, bad marketplace monster, dwarfing the Zune with its 3% share. (SanDisk has a 10% share of digital music players.) The article quotes one Zune owner as saying, "I probably wouldn't buy an iPod," for that reason that she is "a little bit anti-Apple." Public radio host Jesse Thorn is quoted as saying that he was put off from owning an iPod by seeing so many "self-satisfied people carrying a ubiquitous object."

I have a great idea. Maybe Microsoft can take the film from Apple's famous 1984 IBM-bashing TV ad (Remember the days when "IBM Compatible" was synonymous with "It runs on Microsoft DOS?") and repurpose it into an anti-Apple ad. "Don't let those big bad guys at Apple take over your world. Be a rebel! Go with the cool, hip, anti-trend underdog ... Microsoft!"

Sorry. I have a hard time imagining people embracing a Microsoft product because it is the counter-culture, anti-trend answer to the imperial, controlling Apple monolith. Maybe Apple will become what Microsoft is, but Microsoft will never become what Apple was.

Steve Yastrow posted this on August 12, 2008, in Branding.
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