Blog » Surface-level compromises

The biggest sin in the technology world, if you believe the journalists of same, is hypocrisy. Bad products and security breaches are one thing, but if you betray the principles on which your products are currently built, you’re a monster.

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I emphasized “currently” for a reason. Once upon a time Apple was the little guy fighting against the stodgy behemoth that was IBM. Apple was the different computer, the choice of renegades and rebels. But once you’re the new leader in selling personal computers, you can retire the notion of being the little guy and do whatever you want.

Now that they’re on top and “Think Different” has been put to bed, what does Apple stand for? I couldn’t find anything in their Public Relations nor About sections that looks like a slogan or motto. In their advertising, however, Apple’s attitude becomes clear.

Apple releases revolutionary (resolutionary?) products. Devices that are amazing. Software the most advanced in the world. All adjectives, superlatives, immune to real criticism because they’re totally subjective. If you disagree you’re dismissed as an open source hippie (and can be ignored), someone who likes tinkering with their hardware (and can be ignored), or a cheapskate who doesn’t want to buy dongles to use their old hardware (and… wait for it… can be ignored). Product reviews are so much more fun when there are no angles of criticism you accept as valid!

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Now consider Microsoft’s advertising for Windows 8 and their Surface tablet: “No Compromises.”

Ugh. Bad choice of words.

Everything requires compromises, even if they’re benign. For instance, the Surface Pro tablet will run current Windows 7 apps, but they will be awful to use with the touchscreen alone, so you have to compromise by purchasing a keyboard. It’ll be fast, but relatively heavy and will probably run hotter than the iPad 3, all compromises made to squeeze Windows 8 on Intel chips into a tablet. These nitpicks will come up in reviews, and the smug reviewers will gleefully shove Microsoft’s foot into its mouth without compromises.

This is the problem with making objective claims in your advertising (or perhaps making the product before the advertising). What would a better slogan for the Surface look like? Given that the Pro tablet can function as a regular laptop and an iPad-like tablet, I would use:

The Best of Both Worlds

The tablet is ascending, the PC slowly sinking. Microsoft needs something to bridge the gap. That’s the point of the Surface, isn’t it? And while this slogan will get picked apart (“it also brings the worst from the PC - viruses - and the worst from the tablets - heat”), it’s far more sturdy than “no compromises.”