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Microsoft flashing green in bid to poach Apple Retail experts

post #1 of 85
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As Microsoft attempts to enter the retail landscape and compete head-to-head with Apple, the software giant is reportedly courting Apple Store employees with one of its greatest assets: cold, hard cash.

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Microsoft contacted Apple retail store managers in an attempt to lure them away. The employees were offered raises and compensation for moving expenses if they agreed to work for Redmond, Wash.-based heavyweight, which intends to open its first brick-and-mortar stores this fall.

One person familiar with the matter, who recently spoke with AppleInsider under the condition of anonymity, detailed how that the Windows maker was able to court an Apple retail market manager, who had recently left the company. This person explained that the manager was offered a pay raise at their new position, where they would train new employees. The manager was then reportedly asked to contact the most seasoned Apple employees that they had presided over in an effort to recruit them as well.

Potential employees were offered "complete moving budgets, large signing bonuses and double the paycheck for all those hired as managers," the person familiar with the matter added. In addition, regular employees were given a signing bonus and "a little more than double" their salary with Apple. In total, some Apple retail stores have reportedly lost half a dozen of their staffers to in recent weeks as a result of the initiative.

Before Microsoft's first retail stores even open, its rivalry with Apple had been heating up. This week, AppleInsider revealed that the Mac maker has closed its Mission Viejo, Calif., store for renovations. That retail outlet is located in The Shops, where Microsoft intends to open one of its first stores, suggesting that Apple is planning a preemptive strike against its competitor.

Microsoft's recruitment has gone well beyond employees and store managers, as well. Earlier this year, the Windows maker courted George Blankenship to consult on its retail stores. Blankenship was one of the cornerstones of Apple's early retail efforts.

The Retail Experience Center is a private, 20,000-square-foot mock retail store environment located at Microsoft Corp.’s headquarters. Redmond, Wash.

In addition, Microsoft has reportedly taken cues from Apple on the design and the services offered. Early leaked plans showed that Microsoft intends to feature "Guru Bars," much like Apple's Genius Bars, at its stores.
post #2 of 85
Wow! Contacting the retail store managers? Quite an interesting tactic.

I'm actually really curious to see when Microsoft brings a retail store to my area (central NJ), and how it will fare.
post #3 of 85
Do we know the scale of MS's retail plans beyond the couple of stores they are slated to open? Even if they mean to eventually scale up to something approaching Apple's armada of stores, it doesn't seem likely that they'll need a great many actual store employees right out of the gate, so I can't imagine that they've decimated the staff ranks at too many Apple Stores, as of yet. I mean, what is MS going to do, pay them double their salary to sit in a warehouse for the next couple of years while they build more stores?

Also, are the stores going to be another money losing "we must compete with everything Apple does" vanity project for Ballmer? If they're paying their employees double what Apple does, doesn't that have a kind of significant impact on the expense side of the ledger?
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post #4 of 85
This is not going from Walmart to Costco. Apple is a brand, an identity. The cult of mac.
Those employees who leave are not part of the cult, and good riddance. You could not pay me enough to work for Microsoft. Besides, what do they offer? the zune and viruses.
post #5 of 85
I was just thinking... The MS stores if anything will not so much put pressure on Apple as much as put pressure on stores that sell the XBox 360 and 360 games such as Gamestop. Am I wrong for thinking this?
post #6 of 85
I don't understand. It won't work. They're still going to deal with Windows. So it doesn't matter how experienced or unexperienced the person is. Besides many people are quite confident with Windows but Macheads are still hard to come by. I wonder what they're gaining by hiring people who're most likely not as familiar with MS technologies as other folks.
post #7 of 85
As Microsoft attempts to enter the retail landscape and compete head-to-head with Apple

Bad idea. When you have next to nothing to sell. It's a Best Buy with cleaner floors.
post #8 of 85
Apple culture or no, money is important. If nothing else, Microsoft hurts Apple retail (at least a little) by taking away their best employees.

A person may have a "Mac for Life" tattoo and every Apple product ever made, but if they haven't been getting big raises it's hard to say no to "We'll double your pay."
post #9 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Winter View Post

I was just thinking... The MS stores if anything will not so much put pressure on Apple as much as put pressure on stores that sell the XBox 360 and 360 games such as Gamestop. Am I wrong for thinking this?

Bingo. M$ is really taking the wrong path on this one. Especially if their stores focus on selling products instead of explaining the benefits of windows.
post #10 of 85
Just imagine you were offered DOUBLE your salary to work somewhere else...wouldn't you do it?
Personally I think the Microsoft stores will fail and close fast...the question is what are they going to offer? I mean really almost every brand of computer(excluding macs of course) sold out there has a Microsoft product pre-installed and you can buy all sorts of computers and Microsoft products on-line from a HUGE amount of stores out there so what is the point of having a Microsoft store? For God's sake Windows 7 is not even out yet and there is no evidence yet that it might turn out to be another disaster like Windows Vista.
post #11 of 85
It's just a job--if you're offered a lot more money, then unless you really like your Apple job (which is separate from liking Apple products) I say take it

There's always the risk of it being a shorter-term opportunity than you hoped, of course.
post #12 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alohatiger View Post

Apple culture or no, money is important. If nothing else, Microsoft hurts Apple retail (at least a little) by taking away their best employees.

A person may have a "Mac for Life" tattoo and every Apple product ever made, but if they haven't been getting big raises it's hard to say no to "We'll double your pay."

Well, as I say, it doesn't seem at all clear that whatever handful of anecdotal reports of poached employees amounts to anything more than a drop in the bucket.

Let's be generous and assume that they plan to open several more stores next year, having opened two this fall. Let's be real generous and say they get 10 open next year. Even if each store is half staffed with former Apple employees, that's an insignificant number of people. They probably lose more employees than that to attrition every few months.

As to MS "taking away their best employees", how do you figure? Is jumping ship for more money a mark of ones quality as an employee, now?
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post #13 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alohatiger View Post

Apple culture or no, money is important. If nothing else, Microsoft hurts Apple retail (at least a little) by taking away their best employees.

A person may have a "Mac for Life" tattoo and every Apple product ever made, but if they haven't been getting big raises it's hard to say no to "We'll double your pay."

Those Apple employees seduced away by Microsoft's cash will soon regret it when Microsoft's retail ship crashes on the rocks while Apple continues to lead the retail sector in revenue per square foot.

To put it another way: How much would you bet that Apple's retail stores will still be with us in ten years? How about Microsoft's?
post #14 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by res08hao View Post

This is not going from Walmart to Costco. Apple is a brand, an identity. The cult of mac.
Those employees who leave are not part of the cult, and good riddance. You could not pay me enough to work for Microsoft. Besides, what do they offer? the zune and viruses.

Making a living and improving your living standard is more important. Cult and loyalty will not get you that car or that big plasma TV you want. Double the money is an offer only an idiot refuse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alohatiger View Post

Apple culture or no, money is important. If nothing else, Microsoft hurts Apple retail (at least a little) by taking away their best employees.

A person may have a "Mac for Life" tattoo and every Apple product ever made, but if they haven't been getting big raises it's hard to say no to "We'll double your pay."

Exactly.
post #15 of 85
My guess is that MS is prepared to lose money on these things (AKA seemingly everything they do outside of the Windows/Office duopoly).

They're not looking to move product, they're looking to build mindshare for whatever version of the "Windows experience" they're currently touting.

They can see that Apple is having a lot of success with "ecosystems" and "synergies" across multiple hardware platforms and al kinds of software; they figure you can more or less do the same thing with Windows but maybe people aren't quite getting that.

So I would expect to see a heavy emphasis on PC/Xbox/Media Center/Zune integration (insofar as that exists).

However, we should never forget that Microsoft is the company that produced this.

I don't care what anyone says, a company that is capable of making that, and thinking that it's a marketing tool, is in danger of trying to sell things in their stores by affixing a dead cat to each item. It really sort of deifies imagination, the terribleness.

So while they may be able to make their best effort to simply clone Apple's stores, there is something deeply clueless and stupid in MS's DNA, or at least in the Windows division.

I expect the stores to devolve into a grotesque mashup of an Apple Store, a Hot Topic, and a tupperware party.
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post #16 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alohatiger View Post

Apple culture or no, money is important. If nothing else, Microsoft hurts Apple retail (at least a little) by taking away their best employees.

A person may have a "Mac for Life" tattoo and every Apple product ever made, but if they haven't been getting big raises it's hard to say no to "We'll double your pay."

This is almost all backwards.

They aren't by any means taking "the best employees," they are in fact starting with a failed manager and some average/mediocre employees, and any employee that would take more money to betray the company they worked for can hardly be called "the best." People can be bribed certainly, and it's understandable why the average clerk would take double the money to work at Microsoft, but this hardly makes them "the best employees." Quite the reverse in fact.

Taking an offer like this is a idiots game. It's like those that are actually fooled by the "first three months are free" stuff that many service companies offer. At the end of the day, you are better off getting a fair wage for a fair days' work in a competent company that's giving you opportunities than you are going for the money, (although most kids of the age to work in an Apple store probably haven't learned that yet.)

Microsoft (or anyone), cannot afford to pay double wages. These are just teasers and promos to get the first few employees in the door and to make some PR waves. A year or two from now, these people are all going to be out of a job and then the double wages they made for that short period of time are not going to look so good.

Even if they stay with the company and even if the stores actually prosper, you won't see these wage offers for the second wave of employees and you won't see double wages continue for these people as they move up within the organisation. People who are enticed by these kinds of offers are either desperate, or idiots.
post #17 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

Making a living and improving your living standard is more important. Cult and loyalty will not get you that car or that big plasma TV you want. Double the money is an offer only an idiot refuse.



Exactly.

As has been mentioned by others, not being an idiot would include a realistic assessment of the long term viability of the operation that's offering you more money. You're not going to come off looking particularly smart if you jump ship for more money and wind up out of a job altogether a year down the line.

I don't think it's terribly unreasonable to regard these first two MS stores as sort of trial balloons. If they don't really do anything, I would guess MS will quietly shelve whatever plans they might have on the drawing boards for expansion, and let the guinea pigs die.
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post #18 of 85
seems like a case similar to Fox News taking Glenn Beck
post #19 of 85
MS is not competing with Apple, but with Best Buy, Walmart and everyone else selling their wares. This is a futile effort and will cost shareholders millions ... bad idea, but then it's not surprising. Apple has been firing on all cylinders for many years while Microsoft has failed in a number of areas, not the least of which is Zune.

Any employee which moves to MS for an extra few $ is probably not an employee Apple needs or wants in it's retail locations.
post #20 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Microsoft has reportedly taken cues from Apple on the design and the services offered

Steve Jobs should take a digital photo of his toilet bowl full of sh*t and e-mail that to Steve Ballmer of MS with a note saying, "Damn son, you can't even sh*t without being shown how!"

Seriously, doubling pay, paying for complete moving budgets, signing bonuses, etc. we're talking about a MS retail outlet, not the highest paid quarterback in the NFL! Sheesh!!

MS as usual can throw a ton of money at a venture but that doesn't guarantee success! When will they ever learn?

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post #21 of 85
One of these days Microsoft will do something it thought of and did the work needed to make it a successful product/service. To quote Balmer we are going to give our users more of a Mac type experience. Perhaps he should have added we will be using former Apple employees to pull it off.

I have a question. If there is such a thing as corporate Pride / Integrity or Morals . Then does it not strike the average Joe Blow , Microsoft has very little or very close to none. ? In the dealings we all have with this company or the next would there not be occasion, that if we found out that a company was behaving this way we would take our patronage elsewhere.

When it is all boiled down really it is just sad that we as a society deal with a company like Microsoft.
Sad just sad. HT
post #22 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

My guess is that MS is prepared to lose money on these things (AKA seemingly everything they do outside of the Windows/Office duopoly).

They're not looking to move product, they're looking to build mindshare for whatever version of the "Windows experience" they're currently touting.

They can see that Apple is having a lot of success with "ecosystems" and "synergies" across multiple hardware platforms and al kinds of software; they figure you can more or less do the same thing with Windows but maybe people aren't quite getting that.

So I would expect to see a heavy emphasis on PC/Xbox/Media Center/Zune integration (insofar as that exists).

However, we should never forget that Microsoft is the company that produced this.

I don't care what anyone says, a company that is capable of making that, and thinking that it's a marketing tool, is in danger of trying to sell things in their stores by affixing a dead cat to each item. It really sort of deifies imagination, the terribleness.

So while they may be able to make their best effort to simply clone Apple's stores, there is something deeply clueless and stupid in MS's DNA, or at least in the Windows division.

I expect the stores to devolve into a grotesque mashup of an Apple Store, a Hot Topic, and a tupperware party.

Ever heard of paragraphs?
post #23 of 85
Looks just like Radio Shack with a big "Zune" sign in the back.
post #24 of 85
The typical MS solution to most problems:

Just throw more money at it. It applies to retail too, but so do its limitations.
post #25 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

Making a living and improving your living standard is more important. Cult and loyalty will not get you that car or that big plasma TV you want. Double the money is an offer only an idiot refuse.

Such a clear act of desperation from a company trying to buy success is an offer only an idiot could accept. Beware of headhunters offering big promises!!!

Sure, things will be great in the short term. But what happens in a year? Or two? Anyone who signs had better be saving that money, not buying TV's. Besides, I don't see a career of retailing Windows as exactly being a living-standard improvement. I'd rather sell used cars.

Ballmer isn't going to be happy until he finally wrecks MS; he's just aching to throw MS's entire cash horde into SOMETHING (especially since he didn't get his big Yahoo deal).
post #26 of 85
I guarantee you that a majority of the employees who defect to MS will not last more than a year or two. Apple has its act together when it comes to both retail and support. When these employees experience the Windows 7 shit storm of problems and irate customers on a daily basis they will be wishing they had their old job back.
post #27 of 85
I wonder how MS plans to drive traffic into these stores.

The latest Office version isn't going to exactly bring in the mall rats...
post #28 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by axual View Post

MS is not competing with Apple, but with Best Buy, Walmart and everyone else selling their wares.

Remember when GM had their various brand dealerships within blocks of each-other (sometimes even under the same roof), and in mortal competition WITH each-other? I don't need to detail how that worked out...

Here's to seeing the MS store-within-a-store at Best Buy and Wal-Mart (about the only idea MS hasn't copied from Apple).
post #29 of 85
The whole premise of these stores is fundamentally off in my opinion. Because generally speaking, Apple users are far different than Windows users in so far as the amount of money they're willing to spend, they're technologically adept, more likely to upgrade their stuff or buy new stuff, etc. It's just a different breed of computer user that you can sell to the way that Apple has been doing.

Your average windows user (with the exception of geekier MS users) are in a whole nother camp where they just want a basic computer to do the basic things they need to do. They view their PC more as a tool than anything else. So essentially, the bulk of Microsoft's installed user base most likely won't care enough about these stores to even shop there. They'd sooner go to Best Buy I think.

So perhaps Microsoft is targeting Apple users, trying to get them to switch..... good luck with that.
post #30 of 85
While it is certainly not far-fetched to assume MS's moves to be desperate, nonsensical and extreme cases of dull copycatism... I still see this whole exercise as a strong indication that MS intends to build more own hardware in the future. With operating systems becoming less important and cheaper, and several Open Source projects competing well with MS's offers, this is the only direction they can choose.

This Apple staff will be allowed to train a few people for a couple of months, the majority will be laid off or receive a pay cut once MS has an own team in place.
post #31 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by res08hao View Post

Those employees who leave are not part of the cult, and good riddance.

Oh please.

If you were offered 2x what you were earning for the same work, and a bonus and maybe additional expenses, you'd HAVE to consider it. It's all well and good to be "loyal", but at the end of the day, your job is how you pay the bills, take care of your family, etc. Which is more important? Not the "cult" thing, at least not to anyone rational.

Now, that said... I'd consider this move, but only for a moment, if I were one of these retail guys. It's not such a great move if they shutter your store a year later, and I think that these silly MS stores are going nowhere at speed. Bad idea, just another example of MS's odd obsession with "competing" with Apple, when they'd be wiser to just use the money to improve their own products.
post #32 of 85
msft should be constantly aware that aapl has more net cash in the bank than microsoft. add to that comment, last month's msft revenues came in about $1 billion under estimates.

trying to go toe to toe with the apple stores is a herculean task that not even msft will be able to accomplish without betting the whole company on it. that's billions and billions and more talent then they could ever corral.

of course if they invest all the profits from their xbox and vista deposits, then it should be a cake walk.
post #33 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

As has been mentioned by others, not being an idiot would include a realistic assessment of the long term viability of the operation that's offering you more money. You're not going to come off looking particularly smart if you jump ship for more money and wind up out of a job altogether a year down the line.

I don't think it's terribly unreasonable to regard these first two MS stores as sort of trial balloons. If they don't really do anything, I would guess MS will quietly shelve whatever plans they might have on the drawing boards for expansion, and let the guinea pigs die.

If I am not mistaken Apple started with two trial stores as well and now they have more than 270.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sippincider View Post

Such a clear act of desperation from a company trying to buy success is an offer only an idiot could accept. Beware of headhunters offering big promises!!!

Sure, things will be great in the short term. But what happens in a year? Or two? Anyone who signs had better be saving that money, not buying TV's. Besides, I don't see a career of retailing Windows as exactly being a living-standard improvement. I'd rather sell used cars.

Ballmer isn't going to be happy until he finally wrecks MS; he's just aching to throw MS's entire cash horde into SOMETHING (especially since he didn't get his big Yahoo deal).

Let's be real. Microsoft is not going under within our lifetime and given MS history they will keep pumping money into this until they success. Maybe MS will not be making millions from their retail stores but I don't think that's the point. I wouldn't be surprised if Dell, HP, and other PC manufacturers are aiding MS with their retail plans.
However you look at it, it will be a win for those who leave from Apple to the largest software developer in history, which is a fact whether we like MS or not.
post #34 of 85
You all need to grow up and realize two things: First, MS is not going up against Apple (Apple's not even in their league, see point two). They are simply following in Apple's footsteps. They saw a better way to sell their stuff and so have capitalized on it. Second, all those of you screaming fail, its time for you to realize Windows sells how many times more of its products than do Macs? Yeah time to remember your place in the market share. I love Apple and would not buy a Microsoft product, but you all need to remember your place in the big scheme. You are the minority.
post #35 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by res08hao View Post

You could not pay me enough to work for Microsoft. Besides, what do they offer? the zune and viruses.

Says the poor eternal bachelor with no hungry mouths to feed. Unfortunately many people in todays world can't take that moral high road.

Dve
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post #36 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buck View Post

I don't understand. It won't work. They're still going to deal with Windows.

There's an saying about salesmen but for the life of me I can't remember the source (movie? play? book?) well it doesn't matter, it's as true today as it was the day it was first spoken...

Salesmen sell.

Or to put it another way....

I can take a successful salesman and train him with the necessary knowledge to sell most anything. However, I can NOT take a successful computer geek and train him to be a truly successful salesman. In short, its either something you have or you don't have.

The bottom line is this, the reason MS is willing to offer the dollars its offering. Apple stores have proven to be successful and the cost of training a salesmen from scratch is expensive and far from a guaranteed success. Finally stealing a successful employee from a competitor will cost that competitor quite a bit more then the 2x the employees salary.

Dave
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post #37 of 85
Move to a new town, work at our store, which we will overstaff for the first six months in order to make customers very very happy. Then watch as we sack half of you, while we try and cut costs at a million dollar mall location that has to try and compete for price with Best Buy, WalMart, Staples and BitTorrent. Good luck with that. It's like trying to open a Kia dealership on Rodeo Drive and stealing all the BMW salesmen.
post #38 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by johndoe98 View Post

You all need to grow up and realize two things: First, MS is not going up against Apple (Apple's not even in their league, see point two). They are simply following in Apple's footsteps. They saw a better way to sell their stuff and so have capitalized on it.

Not exactly an exciting new play from good old Team Microsoft now is it? The fact is they've been running this dusty old play since Apple first introduced the Macintosh. Other than that you're right... Microsoft stealing from Apple is hardly something new and nobody should surprised by it.

Dave
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post #39 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by johndoe98 View Post

You all need to grow up and realize two things: First, MS is not going up against Apple (Apple's not even in their league, see point two). They are simply following in Apple's footsteps. They saw a better way to sell their stuff and so have capitalized on it. Second, all those of you screaming fail, its time for you to realize Windows sells how many times more of its products than do Macs? Yeah time to remember your place in the market share. I love Apple and would not buy a Microsoft product, but you all need to remember your place in the big scheme. You are the minority.

A mall store the size of that photo is a million dollar slot. The margins they need to maintain to pay that kind of rent are only doable at full retail. No one in the age of big box stores and online is going to pay full retail for the sort of things they'll have to stock. Either that or they'll sell at cost in order to maintain market share. But why would they if as you said the Mac market share is not even in their league? This is their typical response - solving the wrong problem. As for undercutting all those stores you pass on the way to the mall - not even MS has an infinite burn rate.
post #40 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcmiami View Post

Just imagine you were offered DOUBLE your salary to work somewhere else...wouldn't you do it?
Personally I think the Microsoft stores will fail and close fast...the question is what are they going to offer? I mean really almost every brand of computer(excluding macs of course) sold out there has a Microsoft product pre-installed and you can buy all sorts of computers and Microsoft products on-line from a HUGE amount of stores out there so what is the point of having a Microsoft store? For God's sake Windows 7 is not even out yet and there is no evidence yet that it might turn out to be another disaster like Windows Vista.

This point actually answers the question. Just because you are offered something doesn't mean you will get it. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of people who state they were offered something but when they wen through with their end of the deal they found out 'didn't didn't get in writing? So sorry I have no idea what you are talking about'. Herb Stempel stated this was exactly what he was told when he tried to get what had been offered him and that was back in the 1950s.

Anyone who changed jobs just on an offer IMHO is a total idiot. Now a promise in writing that is a different matter.
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