Today in Apple history: Cupertino fires back after Microsoft's 'Apple tax' ads

Today in Apple history: Cupertino fires back after Microsoft’s ‘Apple tax’ ads


Microsoft Windows
Microsoft ads take issue with Apple's premium prices.
Photo: Microsoft

April 16 Today in Apple history April 16, 2009: Apple hits back at Microsoft following an advertisement that criticizes Cupertino for failing to sell decent laptops for less than $1,000.

“A PC is no bargain when it doesn’t do what you want,” Mac PR director Bill Evans tells Bloomberg. “The one thing that both Apple and Microsoft can agree on is that everyone thinks the Mac is cool. With its great designs and advanced software, nothing matches it at any price.”

Apple vs. Microsoft: An ad battle

Microsoft’s “Laptop Hunter” ad campaign, which prompted Apple’s response, followed customers as they went in search of affordable laptops. The ads spotlighted the “Apple tax” — the premium paid by consumers who bought Macs over much more affordable Windows PCs.

As can be seen in the below example, the Microsoft ads did not criticize Apple laptops for any design element or performance shortcoming. Rather, they focused on pricing.

The young woman in this particular ad sets out to find a laptop with a 17-inch screen for less than $1,000. Shocker: She doesn’t find one in an Apple store.

Hitting back at Apple’s ‘I’m a Mac’ ads

Microsoft also commissioned a controversial report from Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies Associates. It compared the prices, and hardware differences, of Apple computers and PCs.

Microsoft’s goal in all this? To counter the negative image of the PC fueled by Apple’s popular “I’m a Mac” ad campaign.

Redmond had reason to worry. After dominating Apple throughout the 1990s, Microsoft was starting to decline in popularity in the 2000s. At the same time, Apple was enjoying a hot streak. This was partially thanks to the “halo effect” of hit products like the iPhone and iPod, which brought in new fans.

In May 2010, Apple finally overtook Microsoft in market value. A little over a year after that, on August 9, 2011, Apple blew past oil giant ExxonMobil to become the world’s most valuable company.

Have you always been an Apple fan, or did you switch over from PC? Let us know your story below.


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