updated 05:20 pm EDT, Mon September 21, 2009
MS poaching Apple retail managers
Microsoft is actively trying to lure away Apple's retail workers for its first chain stores, according to a new leak. Sources for The Loop claim the Windows developer is not only soliciting Apple's store managers but in many cases is promising large raises and even offering to cover relocation costs for some of them. Some high-performing sales staff are also purportedly being encouraged to switch over.
The move would further reinforce notions of Microsoft attempting to directly mirror Apple at retail. Although the company said it would try to differentiate its stores in the long term, its layouts are known to mimic Apple's with "Guru Bars," open spaces and bright lighting. It has also placed its retail stores near Apple's when possible, in one case putting it in the exact same shopping center.
The retail effort, due to launch this fall, is commonly thought to be a reaction to Apple's increasing market share and particularly the MacBook line's near-total lead of the high-end notebook market at US retail. All of Microsoft's stores are meant to display Windows notebooks in a more favorable light than at mainstream retail chains, which often focus mostly on budget models and don't give their demo units the same attention as Apple's outlets.
Microsoft has been contacted regarding the claim but hasn't had an opportunity to respond as of press time.