Microsoft and Its Allies Prepare Windows 8 Marketing Blitz

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Microsoft Corp. plans this weekend to start the marketing blitz for Windows 8, the software company’s dramatic overhaul of its flagship product to catch up to the rise of mobile devices such as Apple Inc.’s iPad.

According to people briefed on the marketing efforts, Microsoft’s ads beginning this weekend will coincide with pre-orders of some computers and tablet devices powered by Windows 8. Those devices are slated to go on sale widely on Oct. 26.

It’s no small push. People with knowledge of the marketing efforts said Microsoft and its hardware allies will have blankets of ads with a cumulative price tag of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Microsoft Banks on Mobile Apps

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Microsoft Corp., struggling to dent the dominance of Apple Inc. and Google Inc. in the smartphone market, is stepping up efforts to court app makers like Hemi Weingarten.

Last fall, Microsoft aggressively recruited Mr. Weingarten to convince him to build his nutrition app Fooducate for its Windows Phone. Microsoft proposed putting a Fooducate engineer in Tel Aviv through a weeklong boot camp, and offered a new Windows-based Nokia phone for software testing.

Dell Ads to Focus on Human Side of Technology

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A new branding campaign from computer maker Dell Inc. takes a cue from Apple Inc.’s marketing playbook: It doesn’t talk about technology.

In one spot, a teenage girl talks about how she uses a Dell laptop to video chat with a boy she has a crush on. In another, a grandmother explains how she keeps in touch with her family using a Dell smartphone.

The campaign, dubbed “More You” and expected to begin Friday, is aimed at personalizing technology and marks a break in tradition for a company that got its start by commoditizing computers. Rather than focus on the specifications of products, Dell is hoping the campaign will encourage consumers to think about features and how they can be used.

“We realized it was important to connect more emotionally with customers,” said Paul-Henri Ferrand, who heads Dell’s consumer marketing efforts. “Most competitors are neglecting the fact that technology is empowering people’s lives.”

Apple’s Retail Secret: Full Service Stores

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Steve Jobs turned Apple Inc. into the world’s most valuable technology company with high-tech products like the iPad and iPhone. But one anchor of Apple’s success is surprisingly low tech: its chain of brick-and-mortar retail stores.

A look at confidential training manuals, a recording of a store meeting and interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees reveal some of Apple’s store secrets. They include: intensive control of how employees interact with customers, scripted training for on-site tech support and consideration of every store detail down to the pre-loaded photos and music on demo devices.