Jumping Ship to Microsoft Stores: Good for Some Apple Employees

| Editorial

There have been some stories lately, based on anonymous sources, that Microsoft has contacted some Apple retail store managers (who might take some staff with them) about moving to Microsoft retail stores. That may actually be good for some Apple employees, whether or not Microsoft's retail store initiative succeeds. (See Bryan Chaffin's editorial: "Microsoft's Guru Bar Could be a Success.")

I like the idea for several reasons.

First, people who work in the Apple retail stores likely have always wanted to work for Apple. While it's a somewhat different experience than being a software engineer on Apple's campus at 1 Infinite Loop, playing volleyball in the quadrangle lawn, and eating lunch at Cafe Macs, it'll do for one good reason. One doesn't have to move to California, but can remain in the city of choice. Perhaps the employee has education or family ties that make that a good choice.

The down side is that working for Apple can make one feel, all at once, joyful, dazed and under the gun, managers and regular staff. It's an emotional combination new to many people. For example, because the enthusiasm for Apple is so great, one is all too willing to get up early on a Saturday morning for a 7:00 AM briefing in preparation for a new iPhone rollout. Apple employees know that if they demur, the regional manager has a pile of hundreds of resumes of people who are willing to do exactly that.

That can lead to a boatload of excitement combined with exhaustion. For young people who are single, it's perhaps not a problem. However, for those who are married and/or have other family obligations, it can create occasional but severe conflicts.

Apple knows that highly enthusiastic, near fanatic employees are ready and willing to work exhausting hours. It's not a problem until, one day, an employee's perspective turns from thoughts of exhilaration to worker abuse. People respond differently.

In some cases, it may be a breath of fresh air for some of those Apple employees to move into something less of a pressure cooker. On top of that, Microsoft is much more open, often providing businesses with roadmaps, time tables, and so on. That more open business atmosphere may be more attractive for some kinds of sales people.

Secondly, it's always good for young sales people to move around and be exposed to different companies, their products and their ways of doing business. Microsoft does a significant business worldwide, and many sales people will benefit from seeing how Microsoft operates and how people respond to their products.

Finally, I'm reminded of a famous story about the old Soviet Union and the Cold War. Some Russians were gathered in a private home to worship in secret. Then there was an ominous knock at the door -- Russian soldiers. The soldiers barged in and pointed their rifles at the worshippers and said, "Anyone who isn't a true believer, can leave now. The rest of you will have to pay the price."

After those who were weak in their belief left, and the door was closed, the remaining worshippers huddled together, prepared to die. Then the soldiers put down their rifles, and said, "We came to worship with you! And we wanted to make sure anyone who was not a true believer and might turn us all in was gone!"

Computers, music players and smartphones constitute a large and complex technical community. Microsoft knows that there is a natural fluidity there, especially when they offer a Apple employees a raise. Even so, money alone can't buy loyalty. It can only rent it for a short time.

Comments

wab95

Well written. There is another potential benefit to these Apple employees going to Microsoft. Knowing both platforms, they may provide superior assistance to those PC and Mac looking for dual solutions, which in turn could facilitate transition to the Mac for those PC users inclined to do so and make Mac users more savy consumers for software that run on Windows. And, as you imply, when some of these employees migrate back to Apple (and some will), they will have a practical first hand understanding of the wider world in which Apple competes. That has to be a good thing.

John Martellaro

wab95:  That’s a *great* point to add.

-JM

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I heard that Microsoft is offering new retail employees tattoo removal, stylish business casual clothing, and respectable haircuts. Golf lessons are free for those who remain in recovery for 6 months or longer.

iJack

I don’t get it.  Are the Apple employees that move to Microsoft going to become Soviet soldiers, or are they gong to have to pray?

jfbiii

The only time I pray, it’s that I don’t have to use Windows for something. Or have to help someone use Windows for something. Bleh!

WetcoastBob

The underlying message is that Microsoft is now run by a salesman and not a tech visionary.  Instead of improving the product to foster sales he is resorting to sales gimmickry.

It will really be interesting what these stores are going to sell.  Zunes?

Oh well! Mimicry is the best form of flattery.

I wish Microsoft well.  The “Enterprise” depends on them.

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