updated 04:40 pm EDT, Sat March 19, 2011
Microsoft, ASUS team on Eee Slate anti-iPad ads
Microsoft and ASUS on Friday ramped up a video ad campaign (below) to steer possible iPad 2 converts towards the Eee Slate. The four spots all focus on one person's use case, such an artist, a blogger, a business owner, or a mother, to show how the Windows 7 tablet helped them out. Each of them is consciously aimed at those who might consider Apple and show either an area Microsoft believed it had an edge, like Office support, or directly attack a perceived iPad flaw.
"I don't have to go to an app store," street artist Ravi said in one ad's dig at the app limits on the iPad. "I put Photoshop on this thing."
The ads have a difficult path. While a desktop OS gives Microsoft clear advantages for some creative apps and business integration, the commercials make arguments that often mirror iPad cases but don't necessarily perform as well. Beth Palmer, the mother, touts the advantage of carrying the Eee Slate around in one arm and using it to edit videos or show photos. However, the device is not only much heavier, at 2.5 pounds, but also has less features. Both can edit videos, but the Eee Slate can't actually record the videos Palmer shot, since it doesn't have a back camera, where an iPad 2 could have done both.
The ads also end up showing relatively sluggish performance despite the Core i5 processor, and omit the mention of the Eee Slate's much lower battery life. ASUS officially claims three hours of battery, about a third that of its rival, and in real-world testing typically gets about two. The Eee Slate at $1,000 is also twice as expensive as the iPad.
Microsoft again has advantages of familiarity, theoretically more powerful hardware with better expansion, and deeper software support. Many of the arguments made in the ads, however, are ones the company has so far unsuccessfully made to the public. Apple bragged about the sales gap at its iPad 2 unveiling and noted that the iPad had already outsold every Windows Tablet PC ever made in less than a year, outpacing nine years of Microsoft efforts.The Windows platform is expected to improve significantly by late 2012, when Windows 8 arrives with what should be Microsoft's first true finger-optimized tablet interface as well as support for more mobile-friendly ARM processors.
The company hasn't said whether or not the videos will reach TV or if they'll be limited to the web, making their real impact unclear.