Yes, according to Kevin Turner, Microsoft’s chief operating officer speaking at the Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans. During his speech he recounted a call he claimed to be from Apple Legal. According to the transcript:
And you know why I know they’re working? Because two weeks ago we got a call from the Apple legal department saying, hey — this is a true story — saying, “Hey, you need to stop running those ads, we lowered our prices.” They took like $100 off or something.
Is Turner telling the truth about this? I can’t say for sure, but it’s instructive to note that in the same transcript he says this about the Laptop Hunter ads (emphasis mine).
“Oh, I’m looking to spend less than $1,000.” Well we’ll give you $1,000. Go in and look and see what you can buy. And they come out and they just show them. Those are completely unscripted commercials.
Turner’s not being very truthful there. At the very least, it’s bending the truth to such an extent one must violate the laws of physics to pull it off. Unscripted? Please. Aside from certain events being staged, there’s also the kind of dialog that people are just not using unless prompted.
The latest example of this kind of dialog is in the most recent ad where, when showing a silver HP laptop (silver, to help it look like a unibody MacBook), the man talks about how sturdy it looks. No one usually talked about how “sturdy” a laptop felt until Apple began hacking them out of aluminum blocks. Apple’s been getting raves for the unibody durability, so now one of Microsoft’s laptop hunters coincidentally mentions the same thing about a cheap plastic laptop? Right.
I believe that when Microsoft picks a target price of less than $1,000 they’re on solid ground eliminating the Mac from contention. However, the rest of the supposedly “unscripted” dialog is bogus.
So did Apple Legal really call and request the ads be pulled, or is Turner bending the truth again? It sounds farfetched primarily because if Apple really felt they had a case for the ads to be pulled, they’d take action in writing. A written request, maybe even a Cease and Desist letter, would be more the style of Apple’s (or any large company’s) legal team. It just doesn’t seem like something they’d handle via a phone call to the COO.