Apple Vs. Microsoft: Analysis Of Their Marketing Strategy

PV Vyshnavi PV Vyshnavi
Feb 12, 2021 10 min read
Apple Vs. Microsoft: Analysis Of Their Marketing Strategy

One of the most well-known rivalry in the technological industry is between Apple Inc and Microsoft Corporation. They are two of the largest companies in the world as both Apple and Microsoft have touched market capitalization value of $1.5 trillion in 2020. Both the companies have revolutionized the technological industry by providing us with two very different software applications and gadgets such as Mac and PC.

They are two of the most established companies when it comes to the production of computers. Both Apple and Microsoft are competitors even in different sectors of the industry like hardware devices like smartphone and PCs, advertising, making software's, operating systems, etc. Apple main aim is to produce gadgets like iPhone, Mac, Apple watch , etc, while Microsoft focuses on making software  applications for different devices and giving license for their software services.

Which is why both the companies have different approaches to marketing strategies. Let’s put a light on some of the key points from the marketing strategies of both companies and check how you can implement them in your business.

A brief about Apple Inc.
A brief about Microsoft Corporation
The Target Audience of Apple and Microsoft
The Marketing Mix of Apple and Microsoft
The Market Strategy of Apple and Microsoft
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

A brief about Apple Inc.

Apple Inc is one of the most well known American corporation which is popular for creating unique designs and selling electronics, computer software and online services. The headquarters of people Inc is situated  in Cupertino, California. The company is credited for designing products such as Macintosh range of computers, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Mac, Apple watch, etc. The company is also know to make software such as iLife, the safari web browser, iOS and iTunes among others. Apple now operates in over 350 stores around the world and offers both software and hardware.

The success story of Apple

The success of Apple Inc. is solely because of the contributions made by the cofounder and entrepreneur, Steve Jobs who created good looking, easy to use products and the ability to create innovative products that consumer’s desire. The company was created during the unstable economic situation of the 1970’s. The company introduced Macintosh in 1984 after which it also got its widespread recognition because of its marketing and advertisements for its products. In 90’s after jobs resignation, apple lost a huge market share to its lower priced competitors Microsoft and Intel.

In 2000, when jobs returned and became the CEO, Apple gained it prominence after the launch of iMac and the Think different campaigns. In August 2011, Jobs resigned as CEO due to health issues, which led to Tim Cook becoming the new CEO. And the rest is history. Apple’s annual revenue for 2020 was $274.5 billion, making Apple Inc the world’s most valuable company. As of January 2021, Apple has achieved the title of becoming the world's largest PC vendor and also becoming the world's fourth largest manufacturers of smartphones. Apple is now also the world’s largest music retailer with iTunes.


Microsoft Vs. Apple Business Model
Microsoft and Apple are the two largest companies in the world. The business model of Apple is based on customer-centric devices and innovation. Microsoft’s business spanned across Windows, Office products, Gaming (Xbox), Hardware, Web search engine (Bing), Cloud, LinkedIn, etc.

A brief about Microsoft Corporation

Microsoft Corporation is an US based multinational technology company which is headquartered in Redmond, Washington. The company is known for manufacturing, licensing and selling software’s, consumer electronics, PCs, etc. Some of its well-recognized and popular contributions to the tech industry is Microsoft office suite, internet explorer, Xbox video game consoles and a variety of PCs. Microsoft is also one of the top five tech companies in the US that includes Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft. In 2020 Microsoft became the 21st company in the Fortune 500 list.

The success story of Microsoft

The company was founded by Bill Gates in 1975 . The company was made from contributions of the ideas of two individuals Bill Gates and Paul Allen, as they were interested in computers and programming. The company rose to prominence in 80s with developments like Altair 8800, MS-DOS and the most popular Microsoft windows. Bill gates was then replaced by Steve Ballmer as the CEO in 2000. In the 90s the company made major acquisitions of Skype for $8.5 billion in 2011 and LinkedIn for $26.2 Billion in 2016.

Microsoft provides a vast range of products and service that are aimed at satisfying the customers on what they want in the software industry. In addition to this, the company has extended its operations in other sectors in order to enhance its competitive advantage. The company now offers a wide range of products, software’s and servers for its user’s desktops, laptops, tabs, gadgets and servers including internet search with Bing, cloud computing with Azure, mixed reality with Hololens and software development with visual studio.

The Target Audience of Apple and Microsoft

Apple Inc. has both software and hardware products and services, for software it has iCloud, iLife, iMessage, iMovie, iTunes, etc and for hardware it has iPhone, Macbook, iMac, Apple watch, iPad, etc. Which is why the apple has a vast array of target audience as it keeps expanding its market with every new product. Apple already has 1.5 billion users who fall under the age bracket of 22 to 55 years old. The male to female user ratio is 60.8% to 39.2% showing that it is expanding in the male market.

Apple also targets people with medium to high income individuals who live in metropolitan cities and are loyal to the brand. The occupation group of Apple users are considered to be students and young professionals to even managers and executives. Microsoft also has both software and hardware products and services. Everyone from the middle class house at least owns one Microsoft hardware or software that is because the target audience of Microsoft are people who don’t necessarily have a high income.

Microsoft's target audience age group range from 16 and older and from both urban and rural areas around the world. They also target young crowds that are usually students, employees and professionals and are loyal to the brand. Microsoft also uses the approach of STP which is Market Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning in order to bring about communications in marketing as it enables the company to make propositions their priority.


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The Marketing Mix of Apple and Microsoft

Apple’s marketing mix shows us how the company matches with its business activities to the conditions in the worldwide market for information technology, consumer’s electronics and online services. While Microsoft’s is known to be marketing mix that shows how rapid invention and innovation can be combined with effective approaches to maintain a strong share of the market. Here are the 4Ps (Products, Place, Promotion, Price) of both the companies.

The marketing mix of Apple
The marketing mix of Apple

Product mix

Apples products mostly comprise of mostly of both hardware and software which involve information technology. Apple although has more hardware products and some of the well-known products are Mac products line, iPhone line, iPad line, iPod line Apple watches, Apple TV, while it software products are software of devices, accessories, cloud services, digital content, etc.

Microsoft on the other hand started out as a software developer and still continues to give it its first preferences. However this company has grown to include an  variety of products and services. Some of its products are providing different software to various devices, Apps, Xbox Video game consoles and entertainment.


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Placement mix

Placement mix analyses the selection of appropriate places or venues that are used by the company to distribute its products. Apple Inc. placement involves apple owned locations and other parties that the company authorizes to distribute its products. Most of Apples distribution happens from Apple store locations, Company owned website and online stores for desktop and authorized sellers and lastly the telecommunication companies.

Microsoft tries to maximize its reach in the sectors of both computer hardware and software market. The company does its distribution on their official website, authorized sellers and Microsoft stores.

The marketing mix of Microsoft
The marketing mix of Microsoft

Price mix

Apple uses two pricing strategy which are Freemium pricing strategy and premium pricing strategy.  Apple uses premium pricing strategy to set high prices for its products which is why apple products are more expensive then android products, with this it maximizes profit margins.

In the freemium pricing case apple products are free but customers have to pay to access better features, for example the company offers free 5 GB iCloud storage but if the user wants more they can by purchasing. However Microsoft applies suitable pricing approaches like Market-oriented pricing strategy, Freemium pricing strategy similar to apple’s and Buy only what you use price strategy.

Promotional mix

Apple promotes its products in various ways to include different channels and parties. Apple also uses word of mouth, marketing campaigns and beautifully planned ad video that reaches out to their target audience. Microsoft aims on creating effective communication strategies and tactics which can be used to attract target audience. Both Apple and Microsoft uses tactics such as advertising, sales promotion, direct marketing, personal selling and public relations to promote their products.


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The Market Strategy of Apple and Microsoft

Apple is known to be the best companies when it comes to branding and tech marketing. They don’t just market their products they try to market a brand identity. One of its main market strategies is to keep the products and marketing simple because they don’t want to overwhelm their prospective customers with too many choices. Apple lets its products speak for themselves with their simplistic design and easy to understand descriptions and simple visuals.

One of Apple's best marketing strategies is hyping its products and making a creative campaign. The other reasons are that they understand their target audience and try to reach out to them in the language they will understand which is done by simplifying the marketing process. One of the points of Apple's tech marketing is that they know how to speak directly to their consumer. They also create brilliant video ads and billboards that showcases human needs and speaks to the customer’s human needs.

Microsoft on the other hand depends completely on showcasing its product effectiveness and usability. Microsoft spends a lot as it depends on B2B marketing that directly sells its products to the customers. Microsoft has also updated its marketing strategy which is now based upon customer feedback and market changes. In this day and age, Microsoft has somehow managed to develop not only its marketing but also its products in order to match the rapid rate of change in today’s market.

Microsoft’s marketing strategy is to drive its enterprises business by creating cloud based solutions that will stick with its consumers. Microsoft uses a mix of demographic and behavior segmentation strategies to segments the market into different group with similar characteristics. Segmenting based on demographics is important for products like Operating systems and Office products which are applicable to everyone.


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Competitive advantage of Apple and Microsoft

Apple has several competitive advantages over its competitors one of which is that it produces superior technological products with good OS and technology like iPhone, Macbook and iWatch making it a leader in the market space. Apple has also repeatedly taken the top spot for its brand equity and also has loyal customers. Apple has increased its revenue over the past years and also has high margins.

One of the major competitive advantages of Apple is the amount it spends on R&D, always thinking about the future of the company. Microsoft offers both software and hardware products and services, from Microsoft tablet to Xbox console games to even software. So one of the main competitive advantage that Microsoft has over its competitors is the strategy of making acquisitions. Microsoft has so far acquired companies like Hotmail, Skype and even Nokia.

Microsoft is a main competitor to apple because its operating system is installable on any PC or laptop and there is no hardware binding on the operating system which is a problem noticeable in Apple gadgets. It also has a vast product line and has worked upon TCO which is total cost of ownership so as to make the software easily and economically available to the customers.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

What are some of the Apple’s products?

Apple products mostly comprise of mostly of both hardware and software  which are Mac products line, iPhone line, iPad line, iPod line Apple watches, Apple TV, while it software products are software of devices, accessories, cloud services, digital content, etc.

What are some of Microsoft products?

Microsoft also has software and hardware products and usually provides different software to various devices, Apps, Xbox Video game consoles and entertainment.

What is Apple's marketing strategy?

Apple marking strategy involves keeping its products and ads simple, knowing their target audience and reaching out to them, getting good feedback, a well appreciated customer experience.

What is Microsoft's marketing strategy?

Microsoft marketing strategy focuses on showcasing its product effectiveness and usability and implementing customer feedback to create user-friendly products at a reasonable price.

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