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.