Microsoft Outplaying Apple? Not the Way I See It, Scoble!

Scoble’s got a sweet job: he’s the only person outside the Bush Administration who can be wrong a lot of the time and still reap the rewards from it. He’s also more likable.

The latest evidence of this is his post titled Why Microsoft Outplays Apple Long-Term. In the post, he talks about an independent developer event in which 300 people — mostly programmers — got together at iPhoneDevCamp, an independent, free-of-charge BarCamp-style event where developers got together from July 6th through 8th to workshop on developing apps for the iPhone. He points out that although he met people from Microsoft, Yahoo! and Verisign at the event, he didn’t see anyone who clearly identified himself or herself as being an Apple employee.

From this observation comes the thesis of the post: by not having an obvious presence there, Apple is telling developers to, in his own words “go pound sand”.

He contrasts this with Microsoft, who in contrast, looooove developers:

Where’s Apple? Microsoft is here.

If this were a Microsoft event the evangelism team would be here in force with T-shirts, stickers, free dev tools, tons of geeks who could help people figure out technical issues, and more. Look at how Microsoft dealt with Maker Faire, they sent the guy who builds Bill Gates’ keynote demos to help out. THAT is how Microsoft got 90% market share.

Why Microsoft Tries So Hard

The answer to Scoble’s questions lies in his talking about how hard-working the Microsoft Evangelism team is. I’ll counter with this: these days, Microsoft works hard at getting developer love for the same reason that people sign up for hokey courses at the Learning Annex on how to flirt: because they have to.

The fact that three hundred developers, with no funding or prompting from Apple, started their own BarCamp-ish event on iPhone development is a sign that Apple have, to borrow a Kathy Sierra-ism, created passionate users. They didn’t need to be there in an official capacity; they just needed to stoke enough interest in their product to turn their own customers into evangelists. Surely you’ve heard of Kathy’s blog, Scoble!

To get the same level of interest in a Microsoft event takes a lot more work. Consider the hoops that Microsoft has jumped through here in Toronto. In spite of the fact that we’ve got an active BarCamp scene here in Toronto thanks to events like DemoCamp, CaseCamp and VizThink, in order to get developers to get together and talk about Microsoft tech, it takes either a Microsoft-organized conference like the recent EnergizeIT or its local PR company to organize smaller events with free booze and food. They had to book the “rock star suite” at the Gladstone Hotel and hold a party afterwards to get us to look at Microsoft Live, but the upcoming gathering where we’re going to workshop the Facebook API grew out of a suggestion on a mailing list.

Although there’s a lot of passionate Mac fanboy-ism on the web, there is hope for Microsoft. There is one fanboy out there who praises Microsoft even though he’s not on their payroll: it’s Scoble.

I’ve got to run right now, so I’ll continue later ’cause I ain’t done yet. If you’d like to make any comments in the meantime, please do so!

0 replies on “Microsoft Outplaying Apple? Not the Way I See It, Scoble!”

I normally agree with most of the stuff you write about but I got to disagree with you a bit here.

True, the Toronto Barcamp scene is very active. PodCamp and CaseCamp are two of the best conferences I’ve attended. But I’m not sure how the TorCamps are relevant to the discussion. I took a look at the list of TorCamps and I didn’t see one that was specific to a particular vendor.

Yes there’s was an iPhone event in San Francisco, but what does that have to do with EnergiseIT in Toronto? And while no one has spontaneously started a ZuneCamp or a DotNETCamp in Toronto, Microsoft does support the Toronto BarCamp scene. I think they’ve been one of CaseCamp’s sponsors for the last few events. Does Apple sponsor any Toronto BarCamp events? I honestly have no idea if they do.

On a tangentally related note I can’t figure out why Macs are getting so popular with web developers. I’m a PC guy and while I’ve had numerous opportunities to switch but it hasn’t appealed to me. Maybe I’m missing something.

Heheh, I’m sitting with an Apple employee who is at the iPhoneDevCamp. He isn’t allowed to let me know he’s an Apple employee and he’s not allowed to be quoted. He also doesn’t work on the iPhone team.

But, you’re right, of course. I was talking about the 1993 Microsoft and Apple, not the one today.

I agree, Joey. Its similar to how Apple “advertised” the iPhone since its January debut at MacWorld…all the incredible hype and press it received had a lot more to do with outside forces- the blogosphere, Apple fans, and pundit than Apple itself; how is that in any way considered a “bad thing”?

And now a bunch of fun and excited outside fans are gathering to play with the Apple iPhone, probably come up with some great new stuff and lay the groundwork for more to come…and the big story is…Microsoft has more people there?

It is ironic that Robert is the one who doesn’t get this; as Microsoft’s blog evangelist back in the day, he MUST have been frustrated at how much hard work he had to put in to get anyone to notice and appreciate Microsoft’s products, while Apple (with no official blog presence) effortlessly gets all the attention.

Besides, Apple’s employees don’t even GET their free iPhones until the end of this month :p Can you imagine how hyped that campus is going to be when every worker has an iPhone to play with? I guarantee that every worker there is going to make sure what ever they are working on, works well with “their” iPhone.

“he’s the only person outside the Bush Administration who can be wrong a lot of the time and still and reap the rewards from it. He’s also more likable.”

Apparently you haven’t been paying attention to the people we sent to be in charge of congress last year. Empty promises, and pork-barrel spending out the wazoo. Their approval rating is around 14%…

… and yet they can do no wrong. Rake in that pork barrel money, don’t allow debates on bills, and never admit they’re screwing up.

They said they were going to change things after the last fiasco congress, and they haven’t. Why did we send these jokers to congress in the first place?

Sir, fanboism of Apple has it costs. There are people like me (and some of my friends) who are on the verge of leaving Apple because simply Apple isn’t showing the tenacity of Microsoft for winning the heart of its developers. Your customer isn’t just end-users but also developers. Apple failed to see that. All they can come up are Xcode and Cocoa. And WebObjects (what?)

iPhone is a hot item these days and there are lots of hype around it. I agree with Scoble’s words. I don’t think these events will last long.

Is it just me and Scoble who think that the communication is just one way? From Community to Apple but not the other way around?

You can defend Apple, argue that Apple is much better than Microsoft, etc. But there are other people out there that I’ve talked to that see the bigger picture of Microsoft initiatives. Microsoft simply has more plans and executes very well (maybe not in every area).

Hello to iPhone, it’s a random developer calling, where were you?

PS: There are many developers using .NET sir. Joel Spolsky, Eric Sink, Jeff Atwood

This guy is one example:

Brent, those web developers are basically web designers/bloggers. Designers love artsy thing like the new slick iPod, the slick MacBook, they hate the clunky looking Dell or Compaq.

The hype from Ruby on Rails helped the migration of these Web developers to Mac. Especially when all the “cool” screencasts are done in Mac. Bundled that with the fact that bloggers write on the Internet.

If you take a look at David Hansson’s screencasts, you’ll see nice fonts, black background, colorful syntax highlighting. All of these eye candy stuff really captured some of the shallow people. It’s not the MacBook being used on the Transformers movie, it’s DHH screencasts.

I have a MacBook that I’m going to return it soon because I don’t see how I can be productive in that environment. Windows have more software, more development tools. Heck even Firefox support in Windows is better than in other platforms.

There is no need to switch to Mac unless you’re developing niche applications in Mac. You can do whatever you want in Windows regardless the technology choices (be it Ruby on Rails, Python on Django, TurboGears, Pylons whatnot). Heck you even got .NET 3.0 in Windows whereas others don’t.

“All of these eye candy stuff really captured some of the shallow people.”

Vista must be getting a lot of shallow people’s attention then?

“Heck you even got .NET 3.0 in Windows whereas others don’t.”

You have .NET 3.0 and Cocoa if you dual boot Windows alongside OS X on a Mac.

There’s no .NET camp? Au contraire. — two annual events so far, and sure to be another next year. Held on a Saturday, totally free, all about the code, some really topnotch speakers, and NOT organized by MS or MS employees (though some do come and speak.)

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