by Thomas Brady


Ken Segall knows a thing or two about good advertising, and about why Apple’s advertising (quite a bit of which he made himself) is different and often better than the competition’s. In this piece on the topic of Apple’s ads’ dominance he says,

If Apple were to to adopt its competitors’ colder approach, a typical iPhone 4S ad would simply say “Now with triple-lens 8-megapixel camera and intelligent assistant.”

The Microsoft ad above really feels like such an ad to me, in particular a Motorola Droid commercial. The ones that make me ask, “Where are the people? Have the robots driven us off the earth?”

Ken was discussing a Samsung commercial in the linked article, one which at least featured humans using the device, but it failed to mention what they were actually doing with the device. They appeared to just generally be enjoying the fact that they high dual processors and larger screens.

This Microsoft video is a promotional piece on a teaser site, so I’m not trying to compare it to a commercial that would air on television. You could argue that those have different target audiences. My question, though, mirroring Ken’s thoughts, is, “Who the heck is excited by this video? And what are they excited about?”

If you’re a super-geek, you may have already read that the case is made from… well, actually this gets complicated. Microsoft will tell you it’s made from magnesium, that it’s made from VaporMg and/or that it’s made from a liquid metal. No, not that Liquidmetal, to which Apple has an exclusive license. This would explain the overwhelming visual theme of the ad, which is, I suppose, “We made this from these powders and liquidy, metaly things! Isn’t that cool?”

The keyboard is the only feature we get any clues about. It snaps into place just like an iPad Smart Cover and appears to have keys. The aforementioned super-nerds will know that it also features multi-touch mouse-like input.

The strangest thing of all, perhaps, is that this video, almost completely devoid of details about the product, is the first thing you see when you go to http://www.microsoft.com/surface.

I think this product itself is actually somewhat promising, but Microsoft is going to have to do a lot better at telling this story.