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This article was published on November 28, 2011

How Apple and Microsoft are selling the cloud to humans

How Apple and Microsoft are selling the cloud to humans
Matthew Panzarino
Story by

Matthew Panzarino

Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter. Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter.

Both Apple and Microsoft have invested greatly in the idea that the cloud is the way to germinate customer loyalty through ecosystem lockin. The cloud is a convenience feature that disguises

Microsoft has been trying to sell people on ‘the cloud’ for a while now. I’m sure you’ve seen the series of ads in which it tried to convince people that streaming media from home was actually cloud computing.

But with its mobile offerings, Microsoft is actually doing a bang-up job of it. Specifically a recent ad showing off the OneNote app for Windows Phone is very well done.

Unlike those earlier spots, this is actually using Microsoft’s cloud storage service SkyDrive to synchronize notes back and forth between the desktop and mobile versions of OneNote. The feature that is highlighted here is the fact that if the note is changed on one device, it synchronizes in near-realtime to the other device.

It’s interesting to compare this ad to the way that Apple is selling its iCloud product on iOS devices.

There are some things that both ads do well. Emphasizing the human component is done especially well in the Microsoft spot, with no narration at all until the very end. The mystery presented with the father running around  in an increasingly frantic way is answered neatly by the boys altering the list from home. To complete the circle, the updated “do your homework” shows that changes made both ways apply.

In the Apple commercial, which is almost 100% focused on sharing media , a voiceover does the work of explaining that items are being made automatically available on all of Apple’s various devices.

The Apple approach seems clearly set on emphasizing the benefits of having your movies, pictures and music transferred between devices. A second ad, released later last month puts a slight emphasis on documents, specifically Apple’s Numbers app, being translated as well.

While the humanist approach to mobile apps and devices is old hat for Apple, which has a reputation for talking about ‘what you can do’ versus, ‘what it’s made of’, this is a refreshing slant for Microsoft. The ad clearly focuses on the device in a real-world, family situation and shows you one focused thing that you can do with it.

People relate to shopping lists, people can also relate to the fact that their kids are just as good or better at using computers as they are. This is a smart, focused and human-friendly take and a win for Microsoft.

Both Apple and Microsoft have made some good first forays into trying to sell the idea of the cloud as something that regular non-technical people will want, even need. They have done this by focusing on the human element and bringing to the forefront the idea that this enables you to do things, even though much of the cloud is really about data syncing, something that is decidedly hard to sell.

As we see this battle for your cloud loyalty heat up, we should see more companies try to humanize the cloud and do their best to convince you that their take on it is reason enough to buy their devices. What you won’t see is the admission that entrance into their particular cloud is easier than ever switching away to a competitors.

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