In a new marketing campaign for its mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7, Microsoft claims that handsets running the OS are faster at running common tasks than competing smartphones 88 percent of the time.
While all marketing campaigns should be viewed with a heavy dose of skepticism, what's interesting about this one is it's based on real life experience, not surveys or test results.
The seed of the campaign was planted at CES 2012 held earlier this year in Las Vegas. At the show, Microsoft ran a promotion called "Smoked By Windows Phone." In it, the company's Windows Phone 7 evangelist Ben Rudolph engages in a series of throwdowns with owners of competing smartphones.
To sweeten the promotion, Rudolph promises to pay $100 to anyone that beats his Windows phone at everyday tasks -- finding a nearby restaurant, posting a photo to Facebook, and such.
Sure, this little Microsoft experiment is far from scientific. No doubt Rudolph had the fastest WP7 phone available, which couldn't be said for most of his competition. He probably had a 4G connection, too, which would tip the table in his favor against competitors with slower connections.
Science aside, however, by the time CES ended, WP7 had won 88 percent of its head-to-heads with other smartphones and Microsoft had lost $300, which was probably a small price to pay for the fodder for what looks like an engaging marketing campaign.
And let's face it. Microsoft hasn't been the best at engaging anyone with some of its marketing efforts. The initial WP7 "Really?" campaign is a case in point. You remember that one, right? It includes a spot where a man at a urinal drops his smartphone . . . you get the picture.
Microsoft is seeding sites like Cnet, Forbes, Entertainment Tonight, Geek.com, and Daily Candy with 15- to 30-second clips of the WP7 throwdowns. Those clips, though, seem to be just annoying teases. They never show the results of a challenge. They try to steer you to WP7's Facebook and Twitter accounts. If you want to see the throwdowns and results, skip the clips and go directly to YouTube.
Is WP7 really faster than most of its competition? Whether it is or not, the question should spark some debate among mobile users. And with debate comes excitement --- something that will be good for Microsoft's new mobile operating system on the block.