Just as a corollary to the previous couple of posts, how’s this:

I think we’re living in a world where Apple and Microsoft are no longer in real competition with one another. And I think they should start acting like it.

No, really. MS is developing devices that are solving niche problems that Apple isn’t solving for. MS is effectively no longer in the smartphone space, or mobile tablets.

Apple and Microsoft are now solving different problems for different people and complement each other’s portfolios more than they compete. And even if they do still overlap to some degree, I think it’s less than MS thinks. Windows is a distinct market separate from MacOS these days and I think MS would be better off treating it that way.

Microsoft’s markets are Windows users, PC/Xbox-gamers, and now this touchable tablet/ultrabook/creative segment. None of which Apple is in.

Additionally, I think MS should stop comparing their products to Apple’s in their marketing. They need to make ads that show off their hardware in their own light, without the constant references to Apple. It makes them look very self-conscious, and it’s a little demeaning.

It’s an admission that Apple’s the one to beat. That Apple is the market leader. It’s the reason Apple could get away with it with the I’m a Mac, I’m a PC ad campaign: they actually were playing catch-up. They were acting like a much smaller company because they had to. It’s the sort of thing you do if you’re a scrappy startup, carving out any position you can. Or if you’re an established company clawing your way back to relevance.

MS is neither of those in the actual markets in which it still competes. If it believes in its products, then it should let them stand on their own without making them seem like they’re in someone else’s shadow. As long as MS is taking cues from Apple’s marketing (that Surface Studio intro video, for example) then they should take this lesson as well. Apple shows their products in use, allows them to impress all on their own. Ever seen a spec comparison in an iPhone ad, trying desperately to convince you how much better iPhone is than Galaxy? Hell no. They put the latest model up on its own, in sexy lighting, and let you make up your own mind. They show software solving real problems, and creating real things for real people.

The only time I can think of Apple making self-validating comparisons these days is in keynotes, showing customer satisfaction metrics compared to other vendors, and adoption rates compared to Android. Frankly I think Apple should stop this, too, and for the same reasons.

MS is making some compelling hardware these days and playing on what remains of their strengths without chasing off after every shiny object in sight (like they used to under Balmer). That alone is a hell of a pivot, for which I have to give Satya Nadella full credit; pre-Nadella Microsoft simply didn’t have the insightfulness or taste to pull this off. They should have the guts and self-confidence to stand on their own and drop their obvious anxiety about being compared to Apple.