Stop the Noiz

How Microsoft's Reality Distortion Field Works

Frank Fox - 2008.03.04 - Tip Jar

Who has the best Reality Distortion Field, Apple or Microsoft?

Picture this: Steve Ballmer is in his office throwing chairs. He shouts, "Why aren't we the market leaders in software for music. We are the largest software company in the world. How can Apple possibly beat us with their tiny R&D budget?"

"What should we do?" his hovering sycophants ask.

He yells back, "Start up the reality distortion field, turn the FUD up to maximum volume. And don't forget who we are trying to copy."

The events that follow:


Ballmer calling all the major music executives. "You know, Apple with their market share has got you guys by the balls. They won't move on their pricing scheme that only helps to make them rich. Give us lenient terms and help us launch our own competing music store. Sign us up for some exclusive content so we can show we are better than Apple."


Ballmer talks to the press about how wireless sharing will be great on the Zune - and Apple doesn't have it. Later, when a hot new product is soon to be released by Apple, he talks smack about how expensive it is and how no one will buy it.


And last but not least, Ballmer starts the engine for creating false marketing buzz:

  1. Find some loser guy who'll tattoo Zune on this body.
  2. Talk about how well your product did for one week after release compared to a single model of iPod. Claim this shows you will be catching up to Apple soon.
  3. Make promises about how future products will out perform anything Apple is making today. (This doesn't require you actually are working on these, you only need to give the impression that you are and will out do any competitor.)

Then feed news to those favored media sources that take pleasure in hyping Microsoft and trashing Apple whenever they can. Encourage these stories to be picked up by bloggers, who will spread the FUD around.

It is a well-used recipe that Microsoft has spent years perfecting. Just look how long they strung the business world and the media while they first promised Longhorn and eventually rushed it out the door renamed as Vista. They are masters of "reality distortion".

Think about it this way. Apple doesn't often discuss future plans. They like the element of surprise. So whatever "reality distortion" Jobs uses, he has to do it with an actual product or software that is going on sale. Compare this to Microsoft, who for years bragged about their next operating system and didn't have to produce anything but vaporware promises and beta copies.

The Best RDF

Now ask yourself, who has the best reality distortion field?

If you said Apple, you are correct. Microsoft is just a bag of hot air selling bug-riddled software and copycat hardware. They distort reality only enough to create FUD about other people's products and false promises about their own.

Steve Jobs has a tougher job: he draws you into seeing a live product as something special and makes you want to open your pocket book. Now that takes a little bit more talent.

Until next time, try to stay away from all RDFs greater than a Macworld Expo. LEM

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