Is It That Bad, Microsoft?

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) doesn't seem to draw much of a crowd these days, but Mr. Softy's hoping that free concert tickets will do the trick.

When the software giant's newest retail store opens at Dadeland Mall in Miami later this month, don't be surprised if it's mobbed by a crowd of hipsters.

No one's mistaking the new store with Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) larger namesake retail hub in the same mall. Mr. Softy is just giving concert tickets -- a lot of concert tickets -- to catch the Gym Class Heroes performing in town later that night.

The first 200 people in line for Microsoft's store opening on May 18 will receive a pair of premier tickets to the Saturday night show as well as a single ticket for a meet and greet with the band after the show. Yes, the 200 folks accompanying the early risers to the concert will just have to wait outside.

However, it would be no fun if Microsoft capped the queue at 200 people. The next 1,350 folks in line -- "at a minimum" -- will also receive a pair of tickets to the performance.

In other words, Microsoft is handing out at least 3,100 tickets to make sure that its grand opening will be mobbed with young music fans.

Will they buy Surface tablets? Will they check out the latest Windows 8 laptops? Are they going to trade in their iPhones for Nokia's latest Lumia smartphones powered by Windows Phone 8?

You know the answers.

The moment that the tickets run out the late arrivals will just head out to the food court for free chicken samples on toothpicks.

Microsoft isn't necessarily doing the wrong thing here. It needs to let shoppers know that it intends its namesake stores to be a retailing force. Anything that it can do to create a media circus from the start is a good thing. Even if they don't become customers right away, at least 1,550 people will be grateful.

That's a start.

Apple didn't have to give away concert tickets when it opened its stores, but Apple also didn't have to give a partner billions of dollars to promote a smartphone platform the way that Microsoft has done with Nokia.

Microsoft is hungry for relevance, and it's willing to spend until its ears bleed to make that happen.

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  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2013, at 12:22 AM, ipinsao wrote:

    Its already making close to a billion from Android/Chrome royalties.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2013, at 12:30 AM, applefan1 wrote:

    I guess it is that bad. When a company has to pay celebrities to promote their products like Samsung or give away free concert tickets like Microsoft, that's what they call BUYING THE CUSTOMER and creating a buzz about the product.

    If it works, it only works for the short term.

    It would probably be better if Microsoft stuffed each Surface box with a $100 bill inside. That might work better.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2013, at 1:26 AM, justausier wrote:

    Gym Class Heroes? Really? That's the target consumer? Fifteen year old's in stocking caps? It's official, MS has jumped the shark. Absolutely out of touch with any sense of reality. Windows 8, Surface RT, always on X-Box, Cloud based subscription Office, drilling Skype into Outlook, the list seems to keep growing. I can see the next step, Server 2014, where you pay "per user, per log in." Remember, I said it first!!!! LMBO

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2013, at 4:34 AM, doawithlife wrote:

    MS is stupid.

    "Apple didn't have to give away concert tickets when it opened its stores"

    No but they give out $1k+ worth of stuff at their top tier conferences. MS is stupid and gives nothing of value.

    Free stuff to media/programmers means free advertisements. From the lack of news articles covering the Surface Pro's abilities I would say they failed.

    Even the newest commercials are a joke. They show people playing mobile app games. If they want to sell units, show people playing Civ 5 - Baldur's gate - The Sims 2 - Modern Warfare. Anything that shows it as a true PC.

    The Surface Pro is great, MS is just a bunch of morons. If they didn't have the OS, the company would fail in ten days flat.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2013, at 5:39 AM, gilsh wrote:

    Having reached the playing field last (even after Research In Motion's tablet), one has to play much harder, to stay relevant.

    Considering some problematic product decisions by MS in the design, qa&wrap of tablets and smartphones, this means marketing people have got to work even harder to sell.

    Marketing has always been one of Microsoft's strengths. Neither of the corporation's strong points has been a significant technological lead - not in operating systems, not in web browsers, not in office-productivity suites, not in servers.

    Why would it be different when smartphones and tablets are the issue ?

    Instead of seeing this as a sign for desperation, I consider this as a sign for Microsoft's marketing people getting their head straight.

    If they want to sell - they are going to have to do it the hard way. If I am correct in my interpretation, then this is a milestone for sales regarding Microsoft's gadgetry. The only question is when will this theoretically new approach influence pricing, bundling and campaigning.

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