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Microsoft Reportedly Poaching Apple Retail Staff 375

Eugen notes an article up at Ars reporting that Microsoft, besides copying Apple's retail formula, is now going after Apple's retail employees. "Microsoft is reportedly trying to hire away Apple's retail employees by bribing them with... wait for it, better wages. 'People that have spoken to The Loop on condition of anonymity confirm that Microsoft has contacted a number of Apple's retail store managers to work in their stores. In addition to "significant raises," the managers have also been offered moving expenses in some cases.' It doesn't end there: once the ex-Apple managers have jumped ship, they are asked to contact their top sales employees at their old workplaces and offer them similar positions at Microsoft's retail stores, also with higher pay. ... If you work in an Apple store near a soon-to-be-opened Microsoft store, apparently the software giant is giving you a free pass; no looking through job postings necessary!"
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Microsoft Reportedly Poaching Apple Retail Staff

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  • But why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grapeape ( 137008 ) < minus author> on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @12:08AM (#29500231) Homepage

    First of all this is coming from a Mac user. In fact im typing this on my macbook now.

    Evidently the Mac Stores outside my area are quite different than the ones here. Here they are rather pretentious sterile cubes with one or two employees willing to show you why you really need that $3000 loaded macbook pro rather than the $999 macbook so junior can do his homework faster. 3-4 other people standing around and one guy at the Mac Genius table arguing with a guy that dropped his Iphone in water and expects a free replacement anyway. I have yet to find any employees outside the genius bar that actually know anything beyond their scripted demo, and the guy at the bar is usually too busy explaining something mundane to be of much help if you do not have a scheduled appointment.

    Have the "I'm A Mac" commercials permeated the consciousness of Microsoft to the point that they themselves feel that no one but nerds and suits use windows? What good is a mac entrenched hipster selling windows?

  • Re:But why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @12:18AM (#29500299)

    I'm a longtime Mac user and I say best of luck to those that jump for more money. Who can blame them? Times are tough and money is important for most people. Besides, there is a greater chance that those that are Apple loyalists who know the products well will stay. And it's not like there is a shortage of college kids for Apple to tap into to replenish the ranks. Maybe we'll even see better Apple stores with more direct competition from Microsoft. I don't see how either side loses.

  • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @12:21AM (#29500317)

    Lets see, Apple has top to bottom control, OS, Developer Tools, Software, multiple lines of hardware, services.

    Microsoft has OS, Dev Tools, Software and iPod, iPhone, Accessories, Laptop or Desktop hardware worth speaking of at the moment.

    Now just what is Microsoft going to be selling? $300 boxes of Win7 while Amazon sells for less?

    Once the experiment is over where do the "Genius'" work?

  • by russlar ( 1122455 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @12:21AM (#29500319)
    Poach the other guy, it would be much more effective:
    "I'm a PC, and this is what I can really do."
  • by plazman30 ( 531348 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @12:23AM (#29500337) Homepage

    If the laptop hunter ads are any indication, the stores will be full of HP Products.

  • by egregious ( 16118 ) * on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @12:28AM (#29500373)

    I think this is more like McDonald's hiring Burger King managers than the usual tech employment, hence ne. This is retail, not what most /. readers would think as managerial positions.

  • by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @01:12AM (#29500639)

    >the devil you know is better than the devil you don't.

    In capitalism there is no devil, just your worth vs. what you can get in the market. I see a lot of sharp kids in the Apple store and theyre making what? 10-12 dollars an hour? If MS or whomever offers 15/hr then they should go for it. Both are faceless profit driven corporations who create and market products. Dont let emotions get in the way of a smart decision.

  • by ( 1195047 ) <philip.paradis@p ... t ['gra' in gap]> on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @01:24AM (#29500695) Homepage Journal
    "The devil you know is better than the devil you don't" is a common expression. It means that given a choice between two entities that are described as you just proposed, it's frequently a smarter choice to stick with the deal you've already got. It has nothing to do with emotions.
  • by BikeHelmet ( 1437881 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @01:28AM (#29500721) Journal

    Starting wage is over $17/hr at a nearby Costco. (I'm in BC, Canada)

    Apparently it goes up quite quickly beyond that. Certainly makes Walmart's starting wages look horrible!

  • by dingen ( 958134 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @02:08AM (#29500925)
    According to Microsoft, selling stuff is not the main focus of the Microsoft stores. They just want to be out there or something.
  • by mlts ( 1038732 ) * on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @05:06AM (#29501625)

    Gateway stores would have been far more successful if you didn't have to special order and wait for a computer. Had they spent the cash and had inventory at their stores, I'm almost sure they would have made a much bigger impact.

    There is one thing Apple has that few other consumer level companies give, and that is service. Apple Numbers has glitches? Call Apple or hit a Genius bar, and it doesn't matter if it is the hardware, the app, or the OS, they will at least try to fix it. They may not be perfect, but this is better for the nontechnical home user than the usual "call the hardware/OS/app/software guy, don't bother us" that is common in the PC world. This is also the same reason why IBM, Oracle, Cisco and Sun rake in the big cash. For production, people don't want to try to figure where in their stack the issue is, they want it fixed ASAP regardless if it is an app, RDBMS, OS, or hardware problem.

    Had Gateway offered this service where people could come in with their machine, and someone would be able to at least point them in a direction, be it a broken app, software, Windows, or the GW hardware, I am almost certain the stores would still be turning a positive ROI. Of course, this would mean tacking on a price difference to afford this, but perhaps Gateway might have been better off as positioning as a higher end computer place with personal service, similar to Alienware or IBM/Lenovo.

    My question is, what can Microsoft do with their stores to make them worth the investment? Some ideas occur to me, but they are not really consumer level. One of them is partnering with HP or another PC vendor, and having preconfigured, turnkey appliances ready to go out the door. SMB needs to go with Exchange? Hit the MS store, buy a rack frame, DC, Exchange edge server for outgoing/incoming mail, Exchange edge server for OWA/POP/IMAP, and two servers for the central hub mailbox storage. Another business needs a large document repository? Sell a preconfigured, ready to go tower with SharePoint installed, and some consultant service time to get it up and integrated.

    Consumer level, it is a lot harder. Perhaps preconfigured/preinstalled PCs that have more than just the basic bloatware. For example, laptops that ship with Enterprise or Ultimate Windows 7 editions, Office Professional, a no nonsense corporate edition antivirus utility. Another example would be a PC in a Media Center/HTPC case that is configured with the latest CableCARD stuff, large capacity, low-noise drives and mountings. Finally, another example would be a Windows Home Server box from HP that someone can buy off the shelf and start using as backups. In all the above examples, the key to customer sat would be having some form of support, either by phone or in person.

  • by cowscows ( 103644 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @07:47AM (#29502245) Journal

    Having listened to the audiobook version of Hodgman's books a couple times, whenever I read anything that he has written, I cannot help but hear him narrating it in my head. He certainly has created a unique persona for himself ( I mean this in a good way.)

  • by klubar ( 591384 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @08:39AM (#29502509) Homepage
    Two more differences.... Microsoft chases the corporate market much more aggressively -- and has an OS and marketing strategy tuned to those market's needs (centralized control, scalability). And Microsoft has a broader product line (besides a scalable, supported server) they have a significant game business--both hardware and software. The retail locations will be able to push XBox and MS Studio Games--something that Apple really can't offer.
  • by Danimoth ( 852665 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @11:19AM (#29504471)
    I'm an ex Apple retail employee. If there is one thing I can say about my coworkers, itâ(TM)s that they fucking loved that company. About half of the people I worked with were part time employees with full time jobs doing photo and A/V work, usually for their own smallish firm. Why did they work at Apple? The discounts. Sure the store didn't pay the best (~$12/hour starting) but when you can get that $6000 mac pro / 30" screen combo for half off it starts to look very attractive for 20 hours a week. Apple loved it; they got some very knowledgeable employees to move their merch. Also, Apple treated us pretty damn well. As a whole, retail sucks. At least where I was, the managers were flexible and understanding. There were plenty of product giveaways to employees (in the 6 months I was there I got a free Shuffle when it had just come out as well as a free OS upgrade. I also picked up a week old mac book pro for ~50% off) I'm not too sure what MS is offering, but a lot of the people who were at the Apple Store weren't there for just the paycheck.
  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @11:29AM (#29504641) Journal

    But Apple retail is probably the best balance between selling interesting stuff and meeting real women. Clothing may get you more tail, but most men don't give a fleep about clothing.

  • by Mikkeles ( 698461 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @02:43PM (#29507277)

    'Umm, you don't think opening stores with a "Guru bar" where people can come and ask experts questions from within the retail store is not just a little bit influenced by Apple retail stores where you can go to a "Genius bar" and ask experts questions?'

    Certainly not invented by Apple.

    This used to be standard operating procedure in most shops (with the broad exception of department stores, and even not always then) about 30 years ago. The shopper expected the clerks to have some knowledge of what they were selling and could get useful advice.

    That changed when it was discovered that people would rather pay less for the wrong thing (and little service) than a reasonable amount for good advice and the more appropriate thing.

  • by Dallas Caley ( 1262692 ) * <> on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @03:06PM (#29507541) Homepage Journal
    yea thats completely true, i know this because i used to be a "guru" in a music store (which is all but extinct now) this is not an Apple specific idea. My question is why aren't all the employee's gurus?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @04:59PM (#29508829)

    I have to give my own personal take on this: I bought a Macbook the first day the aluminum ones were offered last year. I got it home, and it was dead -- bad RAM. Since it was fairly late, I made an appointment to the Genius Bar for tomorrow, and they did a complete exchange, of course offering to replace the RAM if I had anything on the machine I desired to keep. It took around 12 minutes to complete the service call.

    I have had to deal with other PC vendors for hardware issues as an individual, and it is nowhere near as easy. One example was a DOA hard disk (the heads were clicking which means it had no ability to calibrate to any tracks) , after calling the rep, I end up running through a script, spent 10 minutes saying "no, I'm sorry I can't do this diagnostic test in Windows, the hard disk is DEAD" to repeated questions, and then finally end up getting a new HDD shipped... and depending on company, they might send it next day, or I might get stuck waiting a couple days.

    Businesses have it a bit easier, but having the service level for a tech to come out in 4 hours is fairly costly. This is why, for my own individual use, I'll probably build my own boxes, but for anything that approaches business production use, a company that does complete PCs and can guarantee a high level of service by sending someone out same day, is what I recommend on consulting gigs.

    So, for an individual, Apple's service is very good. It is far better than the competition, but of course part of the reason Apple offers this is that they don't make bargain basement PCs. Of course, an individual can purchase business level machines for the better tier of service from most PC companies, but the machines will be notably more expensive.

  • by RzUpAnmsCwrds ( 262647 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @07:21PM (#29510005)

    Good post but I take exception with one thing:

    Zune is basically what Apple is pushing (limited storage space, lots of superfluous extras), without the benefit of iTMS and iTunes (which is sad), but hardware-wise about the same

    The Zune desktop software in my opinion is vastly superior to iTunes. It's prettier, has a bunch of 'social' features (which sound stupid, but it's actually cool to see what your friends are listening to), and, in general, faster. I've heard that iTunes isn't such a bloated pile of crap on Mac OS, but I can't verify that.

    Where the Zune HD falls short is on the device experience. It's every bit as capable as the iPod touch when it comes to playing music or movies (and perhaps even better), but the iPod touch has 70k+ apps. The iPod touch has real games from real developers (e.g SimCity); the Zune has a couple of games from Microsoft. The iPod touch has SSH clients; the Zune doesn't. The iPod touch has an email app, calendar, and other nice utilities; the Zune doesn't.

    That's the problem with the Zune. The Zune HD is a superior device to anything that Apple has ever made, excluding the iPod Touch. But that's the problem - they aren't competing with the Nano, they're competing with the Touch. And they fall short.

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