updated 04:34 am EDT, Wed September 25, 2013
Company deserate to unload original Surface tablets ahead of second-gen revamp
Microsoft, which recently announced a trade-in program for users who want to exchange their working iPads for a Microsoft Surface tablet, is said to be planning to expand the program to iPhones as it seeks customers willing to buy the unpopular first-generation Surface even as the company prepares the already-announced Surface 2 line to head to retail. The expanded program, said to begin on Friday, will accept iPhone 4S or 5 units and reward traders with a $200 Microsoft store gift card, which can be used for other MS products and accessories, such as an Xbox.
The existing program accepts working iPad 2, 3 or fourth-generation models of any capacity and offers a minimum $200 reward (phones in very good condition may receive more in trade). The card is good for anything sold in an official Microsoft retail store, though it does require buyers to actually find and visit such a store. Currently, Microsoft lags far behind Apple in the number of retail stores, though it also has kiosks for a total of approximately 85 locations currently open in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico -- with another 10 or so planned.
The Redmont giant is hoping customers will trade in older models of iPhone and iPad in exchange for either a Surface tablet or a Nokia Windows Phone, but the odds of success at this stage are low. Despite some praise for Windows Phone 8 and improvements planned for the Surface 2, Microsoft has been unable to get the general public excited about the products.
Though there are some small signs that Windows Phone products are finally gaining a bit of traction in Europe, they remain well below even BlackBerry in terms of market share -- currently at around three percent -- while Samsung's Android-powered phones and Apple's iOS-based iPhone split the market (and all of the profits). In tablets, an area where even Samsung can barely compete, Microsoft's share is so low it is generally lumped into the sub-two-percent "other" category.
Forbes says the expansion of the trade-in program to include iPhones is aimed to steer potential upgraders away from Apple's latest offerings (and the currently-constrained iPhone 5s in particular) as part of its "#timetoswitch" campaign. The company also has a separate program that offers Visa gift cards for Apple, Android and BlackBerry devices that is not restricted to physical stores and can be arranged and the reward redeemed online.