Redmond is making an offer it hopes iPad users can't refuse. Microsoft is tempting Apple owners to trade in their iPads for $200 (minimum) gift cards.
Here's how it works: You can bring in your "gently used" iPad 2, 3 or 4 and get at least a $200 gift card you can redeem in Microsoft retail stores. The offer is valid until Oct. 27, 2013.
Some of the fine print reads, "To be eligible for trade-in, device should include power cord, if available, and device cannot be password protected. Microsoft Store gift-card value will be equal to trade-in value, and is subject to Microsoft's discretion and manager approval. All trade-ins are final."
A Winning Strategy?
Microsoft is clearly hoping consumers will use the credit to purchase Surface tablets. The company lists the Surface RT for $349 and the Surface Pro for $799.
"The tablet market is still evolving and vendors can rise and fall quickly as a result," said Ryan Reith, Program Manager for IDC's Mobility Tracker programs. "Apple aside, the remaining vendors are still very much figuring out which platform strategy will be successful over the long run. To date, Android has been far more successful than the Windows 8 platform. However, Microsoft-fueled products are starting to make notable progress into the market."
We turned to Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics, to get his take on the promotion. He told us wooing people to switch brands by lowering the cost of switching is a tried-and-true tactic in the United States. Still, he's not sure it's a winning one for Microsoft.
"The sales of the Windows tablets have been modest at best. And the satisfaction numbers for iPads are very high -- 70 percent-plus," Entner said. "There are very few disappointed iPad users that would be willing to take advantage of the offer, so I am not sure how much it will help."
Entner thinks about it this way: Even if consumers are ready to buy new tablets to replace outdated iPads, buying other iPads may be the more economical way to go. That's because you can use the same apps on the new machine that you used on the old one. A $200 credit is generous Entner said, but you still have to pay more than $200 for an entry-level Surface and replace any apps you used on your iPad that you want to use on the Microsoft device.
"Apple has not gotten enough credit for the really smart move that lets you share apps on up to five devices," Entner said. "That made the iPad such an instant winner. When iPad customers booted up their tablet and looked in the App Store all of the apps they use on the iPhone were already there and you could immediately download them. There were some scaling issues, but it was free. Microsoft is not being stingy, but I don't know if it's enough."