NICE, France -- Management World 2013 -- Pretty much every industry event has its fair share of "chotskies" -- you know, the free stuff exhibitors give away (pens, t-shirts, vitriol).
Now, though, Microsoft Corp. is about to set the chotsky bar unbelievably high here in Nice.
Every attendee at this year's Management World -- and more than 3,000 people are registered -- is to be given a Surface RT tablet. For free. And everyone will get one.
The freebie "will help you navigate the digital storm here at the conference and beyond!" says the flyer handed out as folks pick up their show badges.
The handout starts Tuesday at 1 p.m., when a major crush at the registration desks is inevitable, even though, according to show staff, there will be more than enough tablets for everyone who wants one.
Now, these devices retail at about US$500 and these freebies are coming with software loaded, so that's going to boost the value by up to a few hundred dollars. A back-of-the-envelope calculation, based on 3,250 handouts at $700 retail value apiece puts the cost to Microsoft at about $2.3 million.
Now, obviously, Microsoft can afford this, and it's not like inventory of these devices would be low at Microsoft HQ.
The idea appears to be to give the Surface RT a credibility boost by handing them out to a very savvy and influential audience (CIOs and CMOs from scores of telcos will leave Nice with these devices in their luggage).
That could create a very positive buzz, if the user experience is positive. I figure we'll get an inkling of how the device is "received" by attendees here by Wednesday morning. The initial reaction, as word spreads that Microsoft is doing this, is very positive…
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading