Last night, while stumbling upon Penn & Teller’s whimsical Fool Us TV show (sorry, I really don’t watch much live TV anymore — thank you Apple TV), I found myself watching what I thought was another Microsoft Surface commercial, wasn’t a Microsoft ad at all. Rather, it was a generic Intel tablet commercial, pushing the idea that Intel-based tablets are what people need (not ARM-based or iPad tablets). Just how desperate is this dual-force Microsoft and Intel I wondered?
Microsoft’s failing campaign to sell their heavy, battery draining 2-in-1 Surface Pro is one thing, but Intel trying to sell the idea that the only type of tablet worth buying is due to something the user will never see, touch or understand – the processor. Apple’s dark decade of the 90’s laid the groundwork for Intel to advertise to, what could be described as, low technology information consumers. Intel was successful in pushing the idea that when looking to buy a new PC, that only an ”Intel Inside” PC was worth considering.
Fast forward 20 years and the consumer is a different breed of tech smart. Processor type and MHz difference has little meaning. Weight, battery life, apps and cloud capabilities are what consumers are concerned about. Intel inside? No one cares, but here comes Intel, going back to the play-book of 20-years ago hoping Intel Inside will matter to the market.
The primary reason no one cares much about the chip inside their tablet, phone or any style of mobile device is simple: processors are now fast enough. Consumers rarely question the speed of their smartphones or ultrabooks. The question of “How fast is it?” has faded away, because fast enough has clearly arrived. “How long will the battery last?” is the question du jour. For all of Intel’s work to be competitive in the mobile space, and Microsoft’s efforts to promote the concept of 2-in-1 tablet/laptop, battery life is still not up to par with Apple’s iPad series, and consumers that have switched know it.
Intel can try their pull marketing campaign to the tune of hundreds of millions over the next few years, but it will largely fall on deaf ears. Consumers are not like the sheeple of 20 years ago, and can spot a wolf in sheep’s clothing a mile away. Until Intel and Microsoft can find a way to truly compete with Apple’s integrated iOS and mobile products, and at the same time battling Google’s Android solutions for the worldwide low-end, layoffs at Microsoft will continue, while Intel will be stuck treading water at best.
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