By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
July 9, 2009

It’s been three and a half months since Microsoft (AAPL) put owners of Apple (AAPL) computers on the defensive with the first (and perhaps the best) “Laptop Hunters” ad — the one featuring a perky actress named Lauren who does a price comparison and decides she’s “just not cool enough to be a Mac person.”

Lauren, you may recall, started with a $1,000 budget but ended up with a $699.99 Hewlett Packard (HPQ) machine.

Someone in Redmond must have liked the way that $700 price point played in the focus groups because a cut-down version of the original Lauren ad was back in heavy rotation last week, and this week it was joined by a new TV spot in which an equally photogenic laptop hunting family starts with a $700 budget, rejects the $999 white MacBook, and ends up, like Lauren, with an HP Pavilion dv7.

Brace yourself for another round of Pavilion dv7 bashing (“It is the epitome of what people dislike about PCs,” wrote
’s Seth Weintraub when Lauren bought hers) and statements of the obvious: if you start at $700 you’ve already priced yourself out of the Apple notebook market.

More to the point, perhaps, is that none of this seems to have put a dent in MacBook sales, as All Things Digital‘s John Paczkowski pointed out earlier this week. The 13-inch MacBook Pro, starting at $1,199, seems to be selling particularly well. Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster called around and found that it was out of stock in 7 of the 10 stores he telephoned (see here).

Here, in case you missed it, is the latest Laptop Hunters ad. The original “Lauren” spot is pasted below the fold.

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