Advertising: How Microsoft and Apple introduce new products

Microsoft and Apple are two companies who have a long checkered past together. While the companies do occasionally come together on issues or agendas, they are quite different in approach to typical business practices.  

Over the last decade, Microsoft and Apple have both introduced many new products that overlap including the Windows Phone/iPhone, Surface/iPad, Zune/iPod, and Windows 8/OS X 10.8. With most of these products, Microsoft and Apple have released advertisements to engage the consumer and raise awareness about their new goods.

The intention of this article is not to state which is better (and we know the comments will likely include many for and against anyway) but to take a closer look at how each company chooses to announce significant new products for their respective consumers. The products in each category are listed by their announcement date with no other reasoning behind their order.


The first iPhone commercial debuted during the Oscars back in 2007 and was rather simple in delivery, with actors from several famous movies answering phones and saying, “Hello”. That’s it, a very simple montage of “hello” scenes from movies and it ends with the iPhone ringing, waiting for it to be answered.

While this was the first official iPhone advertisement, the video that was shown more frequently around the launch of the iPhone was the video posted below.

In the video above, we can see Apple running through a user case scenario while showing off a couple of basic features of the phones including watching a movie and then searching for food. It’s clear that Apple wanted to show how you can use the device rather than talking about what the device is made up of (specs, etc). It’s a simple commercial, not designed to wow, but to let the end user know how simple it is the use the new iPhone.

On the Windows Phone front, one of the first ad spots to make an appearance was the video above, which was reportedly shown before Lawrence of Arabia back in September of 2010. The teaser matched the theme of the movie and like Apple’s “Hello” commercial, it didn’t show much of what the phone can do, but simply tried to engage the consumer and get them to become interested in the new platform.

A more widely distributed advertisement is above and it made its debut back in October of 2010. The advertisements pokes fun at the idea that we are all glued to our devices and the commercial runs through numerous scenarios depicting how we can be inappropriately distracted by our devices.

The commercial also runs the tagline, “It’s time for a phone, that saves us from our phones”. The idea kicked off the campaign that Windows Phone 7 was more efficient at completing common tasks and eventually lead to the “Smoked by Windows Phone” campaign.


The original iPad made its debut in January of 2010 and the initial feedback was that it’s simply a giant iPhone. While the initial thoughts may not have been positive, once consumers got the hands on the device, the product was quickly cemented into place as another blockbuster device for Apple.

The first iPad video was shot through the first person perspective to show how the consumer can use the devices in a variety of settings. It’s quite similar to the first widely distributed iPhone commercial in that it shows you how to use the device, not the specs or feature set of the product.

The Surface RT made its debut in October of 2012 and was Microsoft’s response to Apple’s tablet that has dominated the market since its introduction.  The commercial is song and dance style advertisement that highlights the physical features of the tablet including the kick-stand and the touch/type covers that click in to the tablet.

The commercial does not go into any of the technical specifications nor does it show much of its use in the real world beyond the opening scene. This commercial was looking to raise awareness about the brand name rather than trying to hard-sell the device. The ad spot also highlights that the device is intended for more casual use and that it is extremely portable.

Another tablet launch for Microsoft was the Surface Pro. The tablet made its debut earlier this year and featured a similar style to the RT launch advertisements. While the music was similar, the big difference was the setting. In this advertisement, Microsoft positioned the Pro in the corporate setting with hope that it would highlight the product as being enterprise ready.

Music Players:

The iPod made its debut in 2001 and eventually dominated the mobile music market and cleared the path for Apple to later build the iPhone. Many credit the iPod as the device that saved Apple as the product was revolutionary for the time in terms of ease of use and portability.

The first commercial shows how easy it is to load music onto the device and then take it with you. It also highlights the size of the device by being able to put it into your pocket while you rock out to your favorite songs.

The commercial was the start for Apple’s advertisements who kept building on the idea of dancing with your favorite music and also the ease of being able to keep your device updated with the latest music.

The Zune was Microsoft’s response to the iPod and it launched back in September of 2006.

The Zune did not fare well for Microsoft and the product was recently killed off, but the legacy of the device does still live on with Windows Phone. Finding the first Zune commercial turned out to be a real challenge and we have narrowed it down to several videos and posted one of them above.

Microsoft’s early slant for the Zune was “Welcome to the Social” where the company heavily promoted the social aspects of the device including WiFi sharing. The early clips from Microsoft highlighted using your Zune out in the public to interact with friends and essentially rock out with your device.


Apple does not always make new advertisements for the launch of its operating systems. Because it comes bundled with the hardware, we typically see the new OS shown off on new hardware rather than as a stand-alone product.  Because of this, it’s quite hard to compare how Apple advertises its latest OS.

The closet thing we could find to a commercial for the platform is the video that walks through the features of the product. While certainly too long for television, it is likely similar to how Apple would build an advertisement to show off its OS.

Microsoft’s first Windows 8 commercial was all about high energy and Windows 8 touch friendliness. As you can see in the video above, Microsoft highlighted touch input as well as the new Modern UI and some of the higher quality apps like Fresh Paint.

The commercial was designed to highlight the features at a glance for Windows 8 without bogging the consumer down with overzealous details. In short, show the features quickly, generate interest, and then follow-up later with more in-depth informative advertisements once consumers are aware of the new platform.


You can certainly see the parallels and differences between Microsoft’s and Apple’s advertising styles over the many devices each company has introduced. There are some similarities between the first advertisements for each company’s smartphone platform but the music player introduction advertisements were opposites in their approach.

Who had the better advertisements? That’s for you to decide but we hope that this article gave you better insight how each company approaches introducing new products to the consumer.

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