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Jim Dalrymple broke the story, citing anonymous tipsters:
Microsoft is beginning looking to Apple for more than just inspiration for its retail stores. ... Microsoft has contacted a number of Apples retail store managers to work in their stores. In addition to significant raises, the managers have also been offered moving expenses. ... Once hired, the ex-Apple employees are then contacting some of the top sales people in the Apple retail organization offering them positions at Microsoft retail. They have also been offered more money than what they made at Apple. ... A smart move. Whether it will work or not remains to be seen.
Emil Protalinski explains:
This move makes perfect sense from a business perspective (retail employees with some decent technological knowledge are hard to come by), but since Microsoft will be directly competing with Apple once it opens its retail stores, some find it odd that the same people who sell Apple products may be soon selling Microsoft products. Managerial and sales skills are, however, very transferable. ... [There's] a webpage just for retail positions. If you work in an Apple store near a soon-to-be-opened Microsoft store, apparently the software giant is giving you a free pass; no looking through job postings necessary!
Jennifer van Grove adds two and two and two:
If rumors are to be believed, now everything from the store design to the Guru Bars, and the actual staffers will have been plucked by Microsoft in an effort to compete in the retail space. The question remains if these aggressive tactics will pay off. We tend think that consumers will buy the better products, but Apples unique approach to the retail space has been widely successful.
Eric Slivka sees a pattern here:
The company's retail stores are not the only arena where the Microsoft has attempted to gain a running start by tapping into the Apple ecosystem. Microsoft has also been reported to have offered significant sums of money to certain iPhone developers in order to entice them to port their applications to the new Zune HD platform.
Michael Klurfeld calls it "a pretty smart move":
Grabbing up Apple store people is sort of brilliant because it means that Microsoft is largely drawing from a body pre-screened for various qualities. At least in my experience, Apple retail store employees are generally very good with people, and more so than the normal tech employee. The other characteristic, and this is certainly true of the retail stores in New York, is that Apples retail staff has that same aesthetic attractiveness (yes, theyre pretty people) and fun vibe that Apple likes to put into its product lines.
That is the exact image that Microsoft has been trying to play up for itself.
Bryan Chaffin observes irony:
In some cases, they may get to do this next door to or near their former employers -- in a word, that should be fun. ... We should also add that such poaching is common practice in the world of high-dollar, corporate retail, though the practice doesn't often seem quite so ironic.
Jonny Evans asks:
Bear in mind the background: Microsofts sales fell another 17 per cent in the just gone quarter as profits slid an astonishing 29 per cent. Sales fell to $13.1 billion, a billion short of analyst expectations and the second quarter of decline.
Will a chain of highly expensive retail shops truly be enough for Microsoft to regain relevancy?
Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him as @richi on Twitter, or richij on FriendFeed, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: email@example.com.