AH Primetime: Why is Microsoft so Worried about Google's Chromebooks?

When you think Technology, you very often think of one of three companies: Google, Microsoft and Apple. Easily the biggest tech companies in the world, these mammoth corporations are vying every single day for a spot in your household -- preferably more than one spot, as a matter of fact. However, when it comes down to it, there's really one elephant in the room between these companies when it comes to playing nice with one another, and that's Microsoft. Microsoft is responsible for some of the most important things to most people today. The Microsoft Windows OS (which is mostly down to Windows 7 and 8 / 8.1 these days), and Microsoft's Office Suite, which comes in a variety of sizes and fashions for whatever needs you may have. Their Windows 8 Mobile OS, which runs on mostly Nokia devices (with some Samsung and HTC ones slapped in there) has potential, but is really having trouble getting off the ground with Android and iOS dominating the market internationally and within the United States.

"Scroogled": The Dirty Sort of Advertising

Microsoft's recent ad campaigns, named "Scroogled" is why they're not exacting 'playing fair'. We've seen this sort of advertising before, most recently involving Samsung's ads for the "Next Big Thing" and making cheap (but funny) jabs at iPhone users waiting outside on long lines for the iPhone. However, in the case of Samsung and Apple, they were simply targeting customers and the silliness that was associated with the idea of waiting for hours outside a store for a phone that was presumably sub-par to the Galaxy.

When it comes to Microsoft's advertising, it's a little less docile. In fact, it just recently got its own branded merchandise to go along with it.The idea behind Scroogled is to instill fear in consumers over how Google uses their data: Targeted Advertising. Google takes information about the consumers that use their service, picking out key words and frequently used names, and targets advertisements at them — a fact that most users don't very much care about, though Microsoft has made it the centerpiece of an escalating series of attacks. Here's one of their older ones in regard to 'Google's App Store':

The War on Chromebooks: Does it even make sense?

Microsoft has chosen a new product to wage war on, and this time, they've brought in the big guns. The Chromebook, Google's highly affordable and modestly successful laptop line that runes Chrome OS is in Microsoft's sights, and they aren't messing around - in fact, they've even given the Chromebook its own page on its Scroogled Website. But why? What makes the Chromebook so dangerous to Microsoft?

They're probably working off reports like this one by NPD that estimated Chromebooks actually snared 25% of the US market for laptops under $300. The thing that Microsoft doesn't really get in this case is that this market is really no longer viable; it's being taken up by tablets, actually. Another research firm, IDC, estimates that Samsung shipped about 652,000 Chromebooks worldwide in the Third Quarter. "Among other vendors Lenovo, Acer, and HP have shipped, but in tiny volume," said IDC's senior research analyst Rajani Singh. IDC only expects Chrome OS devices to reach 3 million units this year — that's less than 1 percent of all PC sales. Chromebooks have dominated Amazon's best seller charts in the US, but they haven't exactly penetrated the global market as effectively.

Microsoft is scared, but should they be? Google and HP were forced to halt sales of the Chromebook 11 last month following complaints of chargers overheating, and it hasn't even returned to shelves yet. One has to be worried about the possibility of this scheme of theirs backfiring -- drawing more attention to the Chromebook than it would've originally received. Consumers will think "If it's good enough for Microsoft to care about, maybe I should care about it too". It's contracting, yes, but it happens. "Given Microsoft is currently losing the mobility war by a wide margin, they are turning to defending their laptop turf, and doing it by playing a strong offense...the downside is that by Microsoft going after Chromebooks with broadcast media, they are increasing general consumer awareness and familiarity for Chromebooks versus the more technically savvy who are buying Chromebooks," says Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy.


What about Microsoft Office?

The Chromebooks themselves aren't necessarily what Microsoft is worried about. One thing that people love about Google, is that they get tons of services for free. Maps, groups, email, but most importantly: Google Docs and Google Drive. These watered down Spreadsheet, Word and Powerpoint tools give the bare minimum to the user, allowing them to do simple edits and organizational changes for free. For many people, especially those that may not be able to afford the full price of Microsoft Office (or a yearly fee to use it at that), these programs can get them by. Google's laptop operating system itself is just a modified version of its Chrome browser, running across PCs, Macs, iPads, and Android tablets -- something that neither Windows nor Office is able to do just yet. Microsoft pushes Office a lot as a result.

It's very possible that Microsoft believes Office to be threatened by these low-cost, no-frills options that Google provides. And for a college student that's writing up a quick something for their class in an hour, chances are they'd pick the free alternative if they needed to. But people need Office, and there has yet to be a more compelling solution available on the market -- Microsoft shouldn't worry too much.

When will we see the Scroogled Campaign stop? Sometime soon, maybe, or sometime in the future. I couldn't really tell you, as it doesn't necessarily seem to be working to either company's advantage - or disadvantage for that matter.

What do you think about Microsoft's latest Ads? Do you disagree with their methods, but agree with their message? Something else? Let us know in the Comments!

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About the Author
Andrew is currently a student at New England Conservatory of Music, studying Classical Oboe Performance. When he's not rocking out to some Mozart, he's spending his time with his Samsung Galaxy S4 and Nexus 7 (2012), and has a passion for dogs, especially his own!