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Microsoft Hopes iPad Trade-In Program Will Boost Surface Sales

Microsoft is offering $200-plus gift cards to consumers who trade in their old iPads at Microsoft Retail Stores. Will the trade-in offer help Surface?

Microsoft Retail Stores this week introduced a new iPad trade-in offer that will give customers a minimum $200 gift card in exchange for a "gently used" iPad 2, 3 or 4. The offer, which expires Oct. 27, allows customers to use the gift card for any Microsoft Store product but stresses the Surface RT and Surface Pro, which are currently priced at $349 and $799, respectively.

"Looking to upgrade your tablet? Check out the Surface RT or Surface Pro," the offer reads.

[Related: 7 Major Missteps For Microsoft's Surface ]

The offer states that eligible iPads should include a power cord and cannot be password protected. The gift card value will be equal to the trade-in value of the iPad, the offer states, and will be subject to the Microsoft Store manager's approval.

The offer is Microsoft's latest move to boost interest and sales in its tablet series, which has lagged behind the competition. The software giant has cut the prices of Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets and offered the devices at steep discounts to both education clients and solution provider attendees at this year's Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.

In addition, Microsoft tapped 10 large account reseller (LAR) partners in July to begin offering Surface tablets to their corporate clients under the new Microsoft Devices Program. But to date, Microsoft has only authorized these 10 U.S. partners to sell Surface, which has caused angst for the legions of Microsoft resellers left out of the Surface picture.

Jerry Zigmont, owner of MacWorks, an Apple consultant based in Madison, Conn., said the iPad trade-in offer won't hurt Apple, but it could spark some much-needed awareness for Surface.

"Any way for Microsoft to generate interest in their stores and gain brand awareness for Surface will probably help," Zigmont said. "But Microsoft has such small market share in the tablet space compared to Apple, it's like comparing a fly to an elephant."

Larry Goldman, CEO of Chicago-based Micro Tech Systems, doesn't think the offer will help turn the tide in Microsoft's favor. "It doesn't surprise me that Microsoft is trying something like this," he said. "It's not a bad marketing plot, but Microsoft just doesn't have the presence with their retail stores, so I don't think it's going to have much of an impact, if any."


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