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Mailbag: Microsoft, Apple and the Cool Factor

Last week, Doug asked for your thoughts on which is cooler: Apple or Microsoft. Better yet, how would you rate your own company's coolness? Here are some of your responses:

Apple: Cool.
Microsoft: Somewhat cool.
Workplace: Uncool.


Apple, cool. Microsoft, no. My workplace, no.

Redmond is cooler. "The Simpsons" said it best. Yeah, I'm slightly prejudiced.

And to answer your question: My workplace is the coolest on the planet.

Apple is cool. Microsoft is frigid.

Microsoft is cool. Apple, not so much.

The only thing actually cool about Apple is its marketing machine. Microsoft could learn something from it (or almost anyone) about hip marketing.

Come on. Apple may seem cool because Jobs is a GREAT salesman and convinced everyone who is a Mac-er that he's cool, but they are just easily impressed with ribbons and flashing lights. Jobs wears cool dress-down clothes (probably $1,000 apiece) that make him seem like he's a free thinker, not caught up in corporate structure, but that's crazy.

Bill Gates is a nerd and has developed his company and persona on the fact and he never tried to fool people. It is what it is. Are the guy and his products cool? Yeah, they are.

Short answer: neither! They are businesses with profit-driven motivations. Gates, while to be lauded for his charity work, is doing so with his personal fortune, not Microsoft's, to my knowledge. Let us not forget that both Microsoft and Apple have BODs, investors, industry analysts and a slew of other interested parties to keep happy in terms of profit, loss, earnings, etc. It's time to stop conferring knighthood or sainthood on corporate execs, sports stars or winsome politicians.

My company (the largest consulting company no one's ever heard of, with annual revenues of over $8 billion), while an interesting and very entertaining place to work, is not cool either. I know full well that earnings, PBT and gross margins all drive decision-making, and no matter what HR lip service to "people-focused" and "professional development" is pandered about the workplace, the bottom line rules the roost here. Please do not think me cynical, however, as I believe that's how it should work.

I vote for Apple as cool as it beats Microsoft in every way except price. Microsoft is the cheaper alternative.

Definitely Microsoft is cooler. Even years ago when I was taking classes for MCSE NT, I remember I always had some classmates thinking that MS is uncool. However, I told them then and I'll still say it today: "BLUE IS COOL!"

Check in on Wednesday for more of your letters! In the meantime, leave your own comment below or send an e-mail to [email protected].

Posted by Doug Barney on January 19, 2009


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