A report on the Wall Street Journal suggests that Microsoft was working on a retail endeavor called Project Brazil that would have been a competitor to eBay and Amazon. Unlike the current Microsoft retail store, Project Brazil would have been a consolidated marketplace comprising of various retailers online under a single shopping cart with different options for shipping.
The thing that would have been unique with Project Brazil would be that Microsoft would be subsidizing many of the products in the store, meaning consumers will see discounted and even lower prices. Potentially, a $10 item sold through competing stores, like Amazon, Apple, or eBay, could cost less or significantly less than that when purchased through Microsoft’s Project Brazil.
And Microsoft would be able to offer consumers subsidies thanks to Bing advertisements.
This could help drive down the price for adoption of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 potentially. Adoption for both platforms have been slow, and Microsoft could help with subsidies through ads to entice users to try either or both platforms that way.
This isn’t unlike the strategy that Google is taking with Android. The OS-maker is able to give away its operating system and innovations for free to manufacturers to implement because Google makes money on Google advertisements.
I had argued in the past that Microsoft should follow Google’s model and try to give away the Windows Phone 8 platform to OEMs in an effort to drive adoption, gain marketshare, and stir up innovation with developer partners, and Project Brazil could have been a first step in accomplishing all of this. Unfortunately, the ad-supported retail endeavor was canned.
It’s unclear what Project Brazil was scrapped at the last minute. Microsoft has acknowledged this project, saying it was only an incubation model.
Microsoft is exploring other ways to entice customers and broaden its ad network. The company’s Bing Rewards programs offers ad viewers incentives, similar to what Project Brazil would have done.