The differences between experiences and specs. Or showing and telling. Part 2.
A critique of Microsoft's latest Surface commercial. No Pauls were harmed in the making of this (winks at Strange).
At least the Dubstep and Glee commercials were fun to watch...
So let's get into the specifics of why this commercial is crap. I will be using Surface in lieu of the actual tablet's name, because who cares.
0:01: Microsoft lies about the size of the iPad. This isn't important to the average viewer though, but it's worth mentioning.
0:05: The Surface's homescreen is pinched and all of the moving icons become a confusing mirage of tiny moving icons. What's the benefit of this? Who knows. What are those moving icons? Who knows. Why is this being shown? Who knows. The commercial certainly doesn't make any of this clear, but...
0:07: ...we do know, from the helpful Siri, that the iPad does not 'zoom like that'. Thank you Siri for telling us you do not do seemingly pointless things.
0:12: An SD card is inserted into the Surface. Now, since I'm somewhat of a geek, I can't help but ask if the Surface automatically shows you pictures when an SD card that has pictures on it is inserted. If so, what if music is also on that card? Does it also play music automatically while showing you the pictures? What if a couple of movies are on there? Does it take the first movie by alphabetical name and starts playing it, while also showing you pictures on the side of that movie as music plays in the background?
Those are legitimate questions I have, but it won't be a complaint of the masses. I think the average person will simply wonder where they misplaced the SD card they've long lost. Or why the Surface cannot simply show the pictures from their phones automagically, as their iPads can do with their iPhones or their Android tablets can do with their Android phones or if they don't have either, why it doesn't work the way iCloud and Photostream works in those very nice Apple commercials.
This is my legitimate complaint. The Surface does not exist in a vacuum. It is an unknown product in a world where very well known products such as the iPad and iPhone and Apple commercials exist. Microsoft must take this into account. To not do so is to consider the viewer an idiot who has never seen an Apple commercial on that same channel they're watching.
The hand then proceeds to rape the iPad (if you can't see the connection between 'Ouch, you can't put it there' and the obvious sexual joke that arrives from, don't blame me).
0:19: Siri asks the Surface, You can do two things at once?. This question comes as on the Surface... um something occurs where there's a video of someone surfing (the owner of the hand, a friend, random person off youtube?) is playing and for whatever reason the hand's owner pulls up a calendar.
Yes, a calendar. To plan a trip with someone named Keira. Which may or may not be the dude surfing. And it may or may not be a surfing trip. 'Cause who cares, amiright?
It's not hard to imagine someone planning a surfing trip on the iPad. With one of the many surfing apps and travel guides for the iPad being used. And one of the many trip planning and air carrier apps available. It's not hard to imagine this in an iPad commercial at all. Because Apple does these type of commercials all of the time. Commercials that show you real ways you can use your new costly device to live life easier by showing how others use theirs. Commercials which don't focus on the tech (side by side), but the experience (planning a trip, walking around in a foreign city, etc).
Do you see why this equivalent experience on the Surface fails? Because it's not an experience. Microsoft had the rare opportunity to show the Surface being used and experienced and lived in and lived with, and yet all they can do is show two unrelated apps side by side and brag about how it can do that.
There's doing stuff. Or there's two graphical windows side by side. You choose!
0:23: You're right Siri, this commercial is not cool!
So what's Microsoft's way of ending this commercial on a bang? Why, by showing the price difference between the iPad and Surface, of course. Except... well there's that 32gb there, which for some reason is important, even though a surfing video and calendar app shouldn't take up too much space. Then there's that 'Limited Time Offer' beneath the Surface's price, in large font so neither Microsoft or Dell are sued, along with random text about something called a Dell XPS 10.
In other words, Microsoft has somehow, against all freaking odds and the weight up the universe collapsing in on itself, managed to make the iPad and its pricing seem more simple and clear in THEIR OWN COMMERCIAL COMPARISON!
iPad. $599. 32gb.
Windows Tablet. $399. Dell XPS 10. 32gb. Limited time offer.
And I can't help but think that Microsoft did this because they're envisioning a future very much like our past, where people walk into Best Buys and acquire about 'Windows Tablets', in the way they use to about PCs and Intel, and the BB employee goes through all the difference spec differences between these tablets, ????, profit!
This is weak sauce. This is not the reason Windows tablets have failed, but it is the reason why they will continue to fail. It shows who's in charge at Microsoft and what they think is important to real people. Not experiences. Not music and vacations and movies and financial planning, but side by side things and sd cards instead of the present.
And it's no surprise. For this is what Windows tablets are. What Microsoft designed them to be. What they accurately advertise them to be.
They're not experiences. They're not companions in your life.
They're specs without experiences. They're companions without context.
A (rare) crappy iPad commercial for comparison.
A good iPad commercial for comparison.