Report: Microsoft preps iPhone trade-in program

Is that desperation I smell? Earlier this month, Microsoft kicked off a trade-in deal for iPad users, promising a gift card worth at least $200 to anyone who handed over their iPad in a (participating) Microsoft store. Now, according to Forbes, Microsoft is preparing a similar promotion aimed at iPhone users.

Word comes from an "inside source at Microsoft," who claims the promotion will kick off this Friday. Apparently, people will be able to trade in an iPhone 4S or 5 for a gift card worth at least $200 at "select Microsoft retail stores in the US and Canada." It sounds like the recently released iPhone 5C and 5S won't be covered. I suspect Microsoft is more interested in targeting upgraders than folks who just purchased a brand-new iPhone on a contract.

The promotion will reportedly be part of a "huge international push" to drive people toward Windows Phone. Forbes says there will even be a Twitter hash tag: #timetoswitch. That's how you know they're serious.

The effort may reek of desperation, but at this point, I guess desperation is warranted. The latest market share figures from Gartner show Microsoft had a minuscule 3.3% share of global smartphone sales last quarter. That was up less than a percent from 2.6% a year before. By contrast, Android commands an impressive 79% of the market, up from 64.2% a year ago. Apple still holds a 14.2% share, despite losing several percentage points over the same time period.

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