10 lessons Microsoft can take from the new iPad launch and use for the Windows 8 Slate launch

Yesterday I spent an hour and a half (off and on) trying to get through to Apple’s download page so I could hand them a fistful of cash for the new iPad. I then put my old iPad 2 on Craigslist and it was sold literally in the same day (seriously – it’s gone).

I did this for a couple of reasons (No, not because I am an Apple fanboy).

First, Apple clearly articulate the reasons why the next product is more valuable than the previous one (with the exception of the iPhone 4s). Second, the resale value is absolutely bananas for Apple products (typically 80% to 90% of sales price after a year or two of use.

It made me think – what could Microsoft learn from the successful launch of the new iPad?

I came up with 10 things.

Let’s get started.

Find a central theme and stick with it

Apple don’t need one – they set the standard, created the niche and the device.

People implicitly buy iPads because they believe Apple make the best devices and Apple know what they are doing in this area. Microsoft needs to find a central theme or reason for people to buy Windows 8 Slates.

A great one would be storage. Apple is till stuck at 64 gig. How about launching a premium windows tablet with 500 gigs of storage which is enough for x amount of games and movies? Once that theme sticks, continue to hammer it home.

Focus on 4 or 5 major features

There are really 4 or 5 major reasons to buy the new iPad.

  • Retina display – 2048-by-1536-pixel resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi) 264 pixels per inch
  • Faster Processor
  • Better camera(s)
  • LTE
  • Same price and same 10 hours of battery life

Almost every other reason is built around these core features.

Microsoft need to find a core of features in Windows 8 that will be impressive and use those as the foundation for marketing going forward.

Microsoft is going to be tempted to over compensate and announce a ton of new features because they are arriving late to the party.

I believe this would be a mistake – less is sometimes more.

Clean up the Metro Start Screen.

I started thinking about the new iPad I’ll get next week and realized that when I turn it on for the first time, there will be 16 icons.

These 16 icons are just the right amount of icons I need to start my iPad experience. If I want to add more, that’s my choice.

Each of those icons represents the basic features I need.

Likewise, Microsoft need to rethink the amount of icons on the Metro start screen.

Let’s take another look at both screens:

Apple iPad and Windows 8

Apple iPad and Windows 8

When I turn on my Windows 8 tablet, the screen is already full and I need to swipe just to see all of what I have.

There should really be just enough for me to get started but enough room for me to feel comfortable adding more icons as I see fit.

Have a killer hardware feature

Retina Display is Apple’s trump card. It’s a feature that no other platform has.

Microsoft partners with OEM’s for hardware so this is a little tricky but there has to be something in Windows 8 from some OEM that is unique to the platform.

If you stop to think about this, that is technology and capitalism in their rawest forms – if you have something that people want and cannot get elsewhere, they will pay you (lots of) money for it.

Have a killer App

Windows 8 needs an Xbox Halo moment.

An app that is exceptional and people can not get on the iPad/iPhone. This will help sell the platform.

Focus on business/enterprise features separately

Interesting to note that Apple hardly ever emphasize the enterprise or business during their launches.

Even though they are making great inroads in business and they have a ton of technical journalists present, their launches focus on the consumer.

They leave their business sales to salespeople, the App Store business apps and their website.

Microsoft would do well to leave all the hardcore enterprise/security/business features out of the core launch and figure out a way to sell that stuff to an appropriate audience.

Believe me –  the people who need to know about Branchcache and Bitlocker for the enterprise will find the information.

Match Apple’s price/performance specs

Apple have become cocky and power drunk with their processors and performance.

Some quotes from coverage of the Apple iPad launch yesterday:

“…These include a faster processor, the quad-core 1GHz Apple A5X, which Apple claims to offer twice the processing power of the A5 CPU (found in the iPad2) and four times that of the Tegra 3 processor found in many Android tablets, per Wired’s live blog of the event. Gizmodo argues that Apple has also probably upped the device’s RAM, “if only to handle the new resolution.”

But.. the price remains $499.

That sucks for all of their competitors but this is basically going to be the standard. It makes no sense for anyone to buy a Windows 8 tablet with comparable performance for more than $499 – it just won’t fly.

I have had people tell me the reason why the consumer will pay $999 or $1499 for a Samsung Series 7 slate with Windows 8 is because quote “It’s not a toy, it’s a full computer”.

Good luck with that.

Only certify high performance hardware

Time to rethink the age old minimum requirements rule for tablet certification.

You’re going up against a dual-core Apple A5X custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip with quad-core graphics.

That’s what the cheapest Ipad at $499 gives me. Going forward, I the consumer will accept nothing less.

Why would it be ok for Windows 8 to run on a cheap tablet with 1 gig of RAM and a weaker processor?

What good (in terms of consumer perception) can come of that?

Subsidize the crap out of OEM’s if you have to but make sure that when a consumer buys a Windows 8 Tablet, they get a crisp, unforgettable experience.

Don’t get caught up in LTE madness – Focus on the wi-fi experience

I have never bought an iPad with a data plan. I have a phone with a data plan and I pay enough for data elsewhere.

While it is important for Windows 8 to support LTE, it’s not a critical element of the marketing strategy at this point.

The ability of the tablet to connect to Wi-FI and excel is way more important in my view.

Get a kick ass advertising firm to make movies for you

Apple Commercial - This Good

Apple Commercial – This Good

Apple know how to tell a story and they do it better than anyone else in the world.

It reminds me of the home theater industry. I love movies and home theater equipment (TV’s receivers, Amps etc).

A lot of home theater industry experts think that Bose make the WORST home theater products. Bose however are GREAT at marketing their stuff and most consumers think that Bose products are high-end home theater products.

Microsoft need a carpet bombing campaign of movies like this which are not cheesy or weird.

Microsoft ad campaigns tend to be quirky or (attempt to be) funny.

I would suggest that they learn from the best and make ads similar to the Apple ads (thematically and quality wise).

This would work for 2 reasons.

  • Consumers would feel that Windows 8 Slates were valuable;
  • Consumers would be confused and wouldn’t necessarily feel that they have a clear choice (iPad).

That’s it for me. What do you think?

Let me know in the comments below…

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