This week’s blistering attack by Microsoft’s vice president of communications Frank Shaw on Apple’s decision to release the new iWork for free, and by extension its new iPad Air, shows an astonishing level of hubris.
In a blog post that appeared just hours after Tim Cook had gazumped Microsoft and Nokia’s announcements of new Windows Phones and a new Lumia tablet, Shaw tore into Apple’s move.
According to the Big M’s man, it showed that the ‘reality distortion field’ of an Apple event had extended beyond Cupertino, suggesting the coverage of the decision to free iWork was disproportionate.
This is always a complaint of companies who feel they’ve been treated unfairly by the media, when in fact they’ve been releasing products that have simply failed to capture the imagination of tech’s hardcore or the general public.
But beyond Shaw’s complaints about iWork, it’s his comments about Microsoft Surface that are particularly interesting.
He describes the tablet as a “single, simple, affordable device that helps you both lean in and kick back”.
Surface may well let you ‘lean in and kick back’. But the simple fact is that it has been an unmitigated disaster for Microsoft.
It had to write down $900 million to cover the cost of the device, making just $853 million from sales up to July.
There’s still no official word on how many were sold, even if the tech giant claims sales doubled in the most recent quarter.
This failure to reveal numbers means the slate has been a flop, make no mistake about that.
If it had been a success, Steve Ballmer would have been shouting from the rooftops.
Shaw’s assertion that “helping folks kill time on a tablet is relatively easy. Give them books, music, videos and games, and they’ll figure out the rest. Pretty much all tablets do that,” is also hilarious.
If that was the case, why was Microsoft’s first attempt at taking on the iPad, the appealing HP Slate, no good?
Because it failed to do things simply and tried to cram too much onto one device.
The fact that Shaw talks about Office offering a ‘gold standard’, saying no one understands productivity like Microsoft, is telling.
He tears into Apple for offering iWork as an afterthought, but you only need look at the sales figures of the iPad to know that Microsoft has missed a golden opportunity.
There’s been talk for years of Microsoft offering Office on iPad. It could have made a killing by releasing it.
Instead, it opted to release a tablet no one wants while Apple raked in the cash.
Impressive, free rival services, such as Google Drive, aren’t helping Microsoft’s cause either.
Shaw’s blog post is nothing but sour grapes. If his company had had the foresight to work with Apple, perhaps Cupertino wouldn’t have felt the need to give away iWork.
As it is, Microsoft has just lost millions of potential customers and its vice president of communications sounds increasingly bitter.