Motley Fool made a great point late last week: Where are the Windows 8 attack ads? They have their suspicions, and I have mine.
Windows Vista was a stinker and everyone knew it, and along came the "I'm a Mac" ads. These ads were devastating in some ways, but as other, cooler heads noted, they also backfired. "PC" came off as a sympathetic character (played so brilliantly by John Hodgman) while "Mac" came off as a dislikable prick.
The ads disappeared in 2009 when Windows 7 hit and all of Apple's arguments were shot down in flames. By that point, there had been rumors of the end of the ads anyway because "Mac" (played by actor Justin Long) had become more of a liability than anything else.
So Fool contributor Rick Munarriz was right to wonder aloud about the lack of attack ads. If anything, Microsoft is on the offense with absolute comedy gold, the wedding-turned-riot as Apple and Samsung fanatics get into a brawl. I don't know how many Lumias that commercial will sell, but it is genius in its own right.
So where are the attacks? Google, Samsung and Apple should be all over this; instead, they are MIA. Windows 8 is being kicked while its down by an entire soccer team, except the team is almost entirely the press and a few analysts.
For starters, Apple can't say too much because its MacBook sales are down along with PC sales. So it's rather difficult to blame Windows 8 for MacBook sales. Second, "I'm a Mac" wouldn't work anyway, because those ads backfired to begin with.
Google has been strangely quiet, even as Microsoft pounds on it from multiple fronts. There's the Scroogled ads, the Bing It On ads, and now a new ad campaign lambasting Google Docs.
Munarriz didn't speculate as to why, but I will.
In the case of Google, the ads aren't working. Google's lead in search remains untouchable and Bing is settling for scraps. Samsung isn't ready to go to war with Microsoft, although it has taken a jab. Thus far, that's as much as they will do, and that's good.
As for Apple, I suspect it may have written off Microsoft, and perhaps the PC business. The "I'm a Mac" ads were in the pre-iPad days. Tablets have changed things forever, now that Apple has validated the concept.
The Mac is 15% of Apple's revenue. I don't think Apple will ever abandon the Mac, but it could likely fade into the same secondary status as the Mac Classic with the click wheel and Apple TV. So long as it pays for itself, Apple will keep it, but the Mac won't be its emphasis, perhaps ever. It has a solid niche, enjoys great success within the creative community, and perhaps that's all Apple wants.
But beware declarations of a technology's death. The mainframe has been declared dead more often than Kenny from "South Park," and IBM still makes a nice chunk of income from them. It may not be a lot, but it’s still relevant.
People may be looking to ditch PCs for tablets now, but we'll see how it goes. I would not be surprised at all if there is a bit of a backlash against tablets in about two or three years when the batteries start dying and people are left high and dry. Those people will remember how they could pop in a new battery on their laptop and they won't be amused at the inaccessibility of a tablet.
All I can say is if Apple or anyone else is ignoring the obvious vulnerability of Windows 8 because they think Microsoft has become irrelevant, they are going to be very sorry when Microsoft gets back up.