Microsoft is "cooler" than Facebook and Twitter

Surface tablets help improve Microsoft's image with young technology users

21 Feb 2013

Microsoft is "cooler" than you might think.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that just under half of 853 respondents between the age of 18 and 29 thought Microsoft is cooler now than it was a year or two ago.

The software maker, often derided in Silicon Valley for failing to dream up products that captivate a new generation of social media and mobile savvy consumers, managed to pip Facebook in the survey - only 42% of young adults thought the world's largest social network is cooler now than in the past. Twitter scored 47%, below Microsoft's 50%.

Part of Microsoft's lift appears to stem from a well-coordinated marketing blitz around its new Surface tablets. Its Xbox games console and Kinect accessory, which can respond to gestures and voice commands, has in the past year also burnished its image around younger consumers.

Josh Johnson, a 24-year-old media arts student at the University of South Carolina and self-professed gaming aficionado, said he has been impressed with Microsoft's consumer-oriented push with Windows 8.

"It's more customisable, and not as rigid as an Apple phone, where you have to buy all the products from Apple," Johnson said. "If you want a ringtone, you don't have to pay iTunes."

He added: "I know Apple is the cool, hip brand right now, but if Microsoft keeps coming out with new tech I'm sure it'll be back soon."

Apple, despite falling out of favor with many Wall Street investors, still scored well in the Reuters/Ipsos poll, the first in a series that aims to measure brand perception and usage over time for major consumer tech brands.

About 60% of 18- to 29-year-old respondents still thought Apple was cooler now than in the past. But Google's Android brand did even better, with a full 70% giving it the thumbs up.

Although "coolness" remains, at best, an amorphous concept, consumer perceptions are pivotal in determining the longevity of products, particularly in the fast-moving consumer electronics industry.

The survey "definitely shows that Microsoft's efforts are paying off, but we'll have to see how cool translates into customers," said Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg. "It's also hard to compare 'cool' factor as a quantitative measure against Apple, a company, and Android, a platform."

Social media addiction

The poll of about 4,800 people produced fewer surprises in other areas.

In social media, 90% of 18- to 29-year-olds said they log in to Facebook, including 54% who use it "continuously throughout the day." Almost 30% of respondents in their 50s, and 18% of those over 60, also say they use it nonstop.

Facebook's usage figures dwarf those of Twitter and Tumblr, as well as new kid on the block Pinterest.

Despite its influence in media discourse, 50% of young adults say they do not use Twitter. By comparison, 58% said they do not use Pinterest and 68% said they do not use Tumblr.

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