The legendary rivalry between Apple and Microsoft took on a new dimension on Monday, when the Loop's Jim Dalrymple reported that Microsoft had begun offering Apple store employees sweetheart deals to switch sides. The news comes in the aftermath of Microsoft's gauntlet-throwing announcement earlier this summer that it was launching a line of high-end retail stores "right next door" to Apple's, replete with Apple-esque touches such as a "Guru Bar" of computer service personnel and the same sterile white decor. Beside the expected outcry from Apple fans, reactions to Monday's news in the blogosphere were mixed:
- Good for Microsoft!, applauds Dan Frommer at The Business Insider. Unsurprised that Microsoft is trying to hire the best, most experienced work force to staff its new stores, he also thinks the strategy will be helpful for customers: "If Microsoft's retail stores are just PC clones of Apple Stores, that's going to be better for consumers than if Microsoft were looking for inspiration from Best Buy or Circuit City." Jim Dalrymple agreed it was a good idea.
- Don't Believe the Hype cautions David Coursey at PC World. In addition to employing a highly useful Cold War analogy about defecting, Coursey offers advice to those Apple employees currently being courted by Microsoft: "Beware! Microsoft has bailed on a retail concept before. It happened in San Francisco, and while I feel Microsoft is committed this time, failure is quite possible. Though it could be years in the making." He does not expect many to heed his warning, however, suggesting that a "fair number" of Apple employees could take the bait.
- Tough Sell Some bloggers warn that even with Apple staff at Apple-inspired stores, Microsoft still faces daunting challenges if it wants the venture to be a success. The first big challenge, as Adrian Kingsley-Hughes points out, has to do with quality control: "While Microsoft Stores will certainly focus on Microsoft branded products, major products such as PCs are going to be produced by third-parties. That brand dilution will mean that it’s hard for Microsoft to have the same level of control over the experience that Apple does." The second concerns Microsoft's lackluster image. Andrew Heining explains: "A Microsoft retail store, even gussied up with an Apple Store’s knowledgeable and friendly staff, is still selling Microsoft products – which is mostly software, not impulse-baiting hardware."
- Apple Is No Worker's Paradise Michael Rose acknowledges that while the shift from Apple to Microsoft is "a bit more of an adjustment than going from Victoria's Secret to Lady Foot Locker," some Apple employees just might be disgruntled enough to make the transition. He links readers to the news of a planned Apple-store employee protest, citing it as the first of a potentially burgeoning Apple-labor movement.