Apple’s former advertising and Chiat\Day marketing guru Ken Segall wanted to like Microsoft’s new Surface tablet, but came away unimpressed with the usual Microsoft flannel and “fuzzy” details at its launch.
Apple adman on Microsoft's tablet launch
Segall, who worked with Steve Jobs at NeXT and Apple, dreaming up Think Different and the name “iMac”, thinks two of Surface’s features are “very cool”: the 16:9 format screen and keyboard built into the cover. See also Microsoft announces new Windows Surface tablets for further details.
His good thoughts about the Surface tablet, however, started to fall away when Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer took to the stage.
“I won’t say that feeling was immediately reversed,” says Segall, “but when Steve Ballmer is the first thing you see, enthusiasm is difficult to maintain.
“He’s definitely not Steve Jobs. He’s not Tim Cook, or even Phil Schiller. His curse is that he is and always will be Steve Ballmer.”
“I do understand the nature of a product introduction, and I acknowledge that Apple is well known for going overboard with its verbiage.
“But it takes a special kind of nerve to present something so familiar as fresh, bold, out-of-the-box thinking,” says Segall on his Observatory blog.
Segall, the author of the ‘Insanely Simple’ book that explains Apple and Steve Jobs’ constant demand for simplification, points out the differences between Microsoft and Apple, made clear when comparing iPad and Surface.
The two versions of Surface are another “stark contrast” between Microsoft and Apple.
“Apple offers one flavour with all features available to everyone, Microsoft goes with multiple “editions” with different feature sets.”
Another difference between the way Microsoft and Apple work is in Microsoft’s vague roadmap for Surface.
“Apple never unveils a product without a perfectly clear plan: configurations, prices and shipping dates. Microsoft doesn’t do itself any favours by being so fuzzy.”
“Ballmer notes that this has been “an unbelievable journey,” and he’s absolutely right about that. It was an unbelievable journey in the worst sense of the phrase.
“It was a journey that started ten years before Apple unveiled iPad. And it was a journey in which Microsoft tried to lead the way on multiple occasions and failed every time.
“The fact is, Microsoft was left in the dust when the tablet revolution started. Surface does incorporate some interesting ideas, but no one can possibly believe that it would look anything like it does if a certain someone hadn’t first invented the iPad.”