Microsoft announced yesterday that it will buy back $40 billion worth of shares. But that’s not all it’s splashing the cash on. If you live in the US or Canada, it also wants to buy your iPad and sell you a Surface tablet computer instead.
Trade-in deals are not uncommon. Bring in your old device and get a new one at a discount. Most often it is a company encouraging you trade in one of its own products for a new one or a general retailer trying to spur sales. But Microsoft doesn’t want its own stuff back: it wants iPads.
So what will Microsoft do with all those old iPads? Reverse engineer-them? Take them to the woods and smash them up with a baseball bat? Nothing so glamorous, alas. The trade-in is part of Microsoft’s “Recycle for Rewards” program. If the company’s engineers deem your old gadget—any old gadget—to be of value, they provide Microsoft retail store credit. If not, they will still wipe all its data and recycle it for you. The difference however is that if you bring in an old iPad, Microsoft guarantees a minimum return of $200. That’s not a bad amount to “use towards the purchase of a Surface or other cool products at the Microsoft store,” as the offer puts it.
Microsoft has never been known for subtlety when it comes to advertising. We’ve written before about its attacks on Google. It also been running a campaign mocking the iPad for a while now, with lots of unfunny ads (which is a shame because its ads that don’t mock other companies are actually quite good.) Still, nothing seems to be working. The company lost $900 million on the Surface on the second quarter and recently cut prices from $500 to $350 to help push sales. The iPad buyback pushes that down to $150. Perhaps if you wait long enough, it will just be free.