According to the ubiquitous Paul Thurrott, the story circulating this morning that Microsoft and its partners have a $100 million ‘bet‘ in place on the Nokia Ace is not the full picture. According to his sources, which he refers to as “internal Microsoft documentation,” the coming marketing push (which will include other OEMs than Nokia and more phones than the Ace) will weigh in around $200 million, double the tally reported by others.
As our headline notes, that figure is for the US market alone. Microsoft and pals therefore plan to spend roughly $0.66 per US citizen to market the phone line in the first half of the year in this country. It’s important to remember that this blitz is not being funded by Redmond alone; Thurrott notes that “on AT&T at least, Nokia is outspending Microsoft 2-to-1.” While Microsoft is a player in putting up cash, this appears to be a broader push than we might have expected.
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Critically, the plan includes a per-unit sales incentive for retail employees that sell a Windows Phone handset. This, a solution of a sort to the ‘last mile’ issue that has long plagued the smartphone line, could be the largest functional change to the sales prospects of Windows Phone that we have yet heard of. By directly making Windows Phone more attractive to salespeople, Microsoft et al is using cash to buy friends, a strategy that works so long as the money keeps coming; $200 million goes a long way.
Finally, according to the same source: “In this most crucial of markets, Microsoft has one goal and one goal only: Convince consumers to purchase millions of Windows Phone handsets in the first half of 2012.” We have yet to hear a peep in regards to sales numbers for the now past holiday season, but it’s interesting that Microsoft is planning this push during what could be called a lull in sales following the Christmas push. Perhaps the comparatively calm market is exactly what Microsoft wants. It would seem more likely, in my view, that this push is simply lying in wait until Nokia’s wares are fully available in the US market.
From all this we can take the following as fact: Far from slowing down, Microsoft is only pushing harder on Windows Phone. It has the resources to do this for years, but how long until the consumers come on board?