For nearly two decades, Microsoft has been the leader in computing. It's hard work getting to the top and even harder work staying there. With other dominant players changing the game over the past 10 years, Microsoft has felt the whiplash.
Bloomberg reports that Microsoft's profits for last quarter fell below Apple's for the first time in 20 years. Analysts credit much of this to the introduction of the iPad 2, which was a dagger in the side of laptop sales.
In an effort to increase computer sales, Microsoft is offering a pretty hefty incentive for students that they hope will lead them away from the shiny Apple. On May 22, Microsoft began offering a free Xbox 360 4GB console (valued at $199) to any high school or college student that purchases a Windows PC for $699 or greater. The deal will be available at the Microsoft Store, Best Buy, Dell.com, and HP.com.
At first, this campaign appears to be a bit of a desperation cry from Microsoft. An Xbox isn't a cheap thing to give away. On the other hand, I think this may work well for the company in the long run.
Summer is the time that the majority of students are looking to purchase a computer for the following school year. Microsoft can likely capture several consumers that are on the fence about Windows vs. Mac with the promise of a free gaming system. They may even persuade some Apple fans who are in the market for a new computer and just can't pass up this deal.
I also like that this promotion ties consumers to another product in the Microsoft lineup. If by giving away an Xbox, Microsoft is establishing a lifelong fan who is loyal to both the Windows and Xbox franchises, the $199 will be well worth it.
It's a bold move, but I could see this working out well for Microsoft.
Microsoft released the video below on YouTube to promote this campaign: