It's time -- actually way past time -- for Microsoft to start investing some real money behind Windows Phone marketing.
On January 4, reports of exactly how much Microsoft may be ready to spend on marketing the Nokia ACE (a k a, the Lumia 900) in the U.S. began circulating. I'm going to go with my Windows Weekly cohost Paul Thurrott on this one, as he is citing internal Microsoft documentation as his source. He's saying the amount that Microsoft, Nokia and various phone partners are ponying up to spend in the first part of 2012 to push Windows Phone is close to $200 million.
The most interesting part of Thurrott's post (to me, anyway) is about sales incentives.
As many of us "early adopters" of Windows Phone found out the hard way when we went to buy them, many retail sales reps haven't been all that keen on selling Windows Phone, preferring to steer customers to iPhones and Android phones. A big part of the reason for that: They get commissions and gifts for doing so.
Microsoft is finally ready to do the same, it seems. From Thurrott's post:
"Included in the (Microsoft/Nokia marketing plan) plan are sales incentives for retail workers aimed at getting them to finally start recommending Windows Phone as an alternative to Android and the iPhone. The amount of payments are $10 to $15 per handset sold, depending on the number sold, for some handset models."
I have heard from my contacts similar numbers, along with promises of free Xboxes, car steroes, free pizza Fridays and other sales "incentives" thrown in for good measure.
I am stymied as to why it took Microsoft this long to figure out that these kinds of promos and paybacks are what's required in the phone business. Why not just take some of those Android patent royalty fees the company is busy collecting (rumored to be anywhere from $5 to $15 per handset) and use them to grease a few palms?
The Nokia Lumia 900 (ACE) is expected to launch on AT&T in mid-March. The Nokia Lumia 710 (codenamed Sword), is going to be available on T-Mobile starting January 11, and is expected to be on Verizon by mid-April.