IS MICROSOFT GETTING ITS BANG FOR BUCK, PESO OR RAND?

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The numbers are staggering.

Microsoft Corp. said it's spending $200 million on mass-market global advertising for the year ending June 30, 1996. Computer companies and retailers are spending another estimated $500 million to promote the product, according to Rob Enderle, senior analyst at Dataquest, a San Jose, Calif., market researcher.

This is what their money is buying:

"I think it's a wonderfully big hype and it's going to make a lot more money for Bill Gates...... He's got us all by the short and curlies, really. I see no need to buy it," said Lydia Lowit, CEO of a small Sydney import and wholesale skiing equipment and clothing company.

"It is over-hyped. Not as many people are actually buying the product as we had anticipated. I think the fact that the upgrade is about a year late has hurt sales," said Mohammed Khan, an information technology sales manager for West One Business Center, a London computer store.

Victor Komarnicki, owner of PC Mundo, a computer retailer in Buenos Aires, gave the ads "a `6' on a scale of 1 to 10."

And, he didn't think the campaign went far enough in Argentina.

"They could have publicized it more, although in the last few days, I've seen more. The sales and marketing have been excellent. The one-year delay created a lot of expectation; maybe it didn't need a lot of advertising. We sold our 10 copies in three days," said Mr. Komarnicki. "We wanted 20 (copies), but they only gave us 10."

Barry Atkins, a retired banker shopping for a computer in London, was more favorable to the ad campaign: "Here in these shop window displays, I recognize the color setup that the TV commercial starts up with. As soon as I saw that I knew it was Windows 95. For someone interested in the product, I think the TV ad attracts their attention."

Berlin student Juri Tetzlauf agreed: "I think the ads are good. They're fast, loud and multicultural."

Johannesburg real estate manager Robbie Ward liked the anticipation built by Microsoft. "That turns me on."

But apparently the ads aren't turning everyone on. Referring to the TV spot, Anil Sharma, a Guildford, U.K. programmer, stated: "I have seen it only once. And I must admit, I can't remember what it says actually."

Adil Bradlow, a Johannesburg journalist, attended the Windows 95 launch in the wealthy Johannesburg suburb of Sandton. The festivities included fireworks and copies of the software thrown from a bus decorated with the Windows logo.

Commenting on the playing of the song, "The Final Countdown," he said, "That's about nuclear holocaust. It was a nice way to launch a program, but let's face it, it's not the be all and end all of computing."

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