Microsoft Debuts Laptop Mouse With 1GB Flash Memory

Not a name synonymous with mice, Microsoft introduced a powerful laptop mouse on Wednesday with plans to ensure through advertising and marketing efforts that traveling consumers can leave the extra flash drive at home.

The Mobile Memory Mouse 8000 has 1GB of flash memory to transmit and store photos, home movies, files and video game scores. But the marketing message for this mouse also targets business professionals, championing the gadget as a business tool to take on trips because it holds PowerPoint presentations for a meeting, Microsoft Word documents to send to the printer, or a video clip of an important event.

The marketing campaign for the Mobile Memory Mouse 8000 will focus on in-store merchandising like displays at the end of aisles and promotions, as well as online and print ads. Manufacturers of computers are likely to play a big role in helping market and advertise the mouse available for purchase in October for about $100 through online retailers Amazon and Buy, as well as Fry's Electronics and Best Buy.



Last month when Microsoft introduced the SideWinder gaming mouse, which goes on sale in October for $79.95, it accompanied a viral marketing campaign with videos posted to Google's YouTube, says a Microsoft spokeswoman.

Microsoft shelled out $40 million through the first half of 2007 for online ads, compared with $48 million last year, and $41 million in 2005, according to Nielsen//NetRatings AdRelevance. Add on another $146 million for TV, print and outdoor advertising through the first half of 2007, compared with $299 million in 2006, and $301 million in 2005, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Wall Street analysts say investors pay attention to marketing and advertising efforts, but are not that concerned about the efforts and effect of individual campaigns. Investors pay close attention to revenues devoted to marketing and advertising; however, they won't raise concerns unless they take issue to one particular ad, says Jean W. Orr, analyst at Nutmeg Securities.

"Investors look at the entire marketing and advertising campaign and results for the company on a large scale rather than each individual one," Orr says. "Any company needs to keep a handle on marketing and advertising, and Microsoft is no exception."

Trip Chowdhry, Global Equities Research senior analyst, thinks the Mobile Memory Mouse could attract consumers as well as businesses that want to give away a tchotchke to consumers, but he's not convinced most are willing to carry around both. "Microsoft makes a big leap by assuming that consumers think memory and mouse go hand-in-hand when traveling," he says, acknowledging this mouse provides the ability to leave the flash drive at home.

The mouse transfers files and information wirelessly to a flash drive, freeing-up the USB ports on the laptop for connection with other devices through either 2.4GHz wireless or Bluetooth. The 2.4GHz transceiver connects to all notebooks.

A switch on the bottom of the mouse enables Bluetooth notebook users to connect directly to their laptops. The mouse offers a scroll wheel, indicator light to conserve and check battery life, magnifier that enlarges text and images, and high-definition laser tracking.

"This product might take a little more marketing to convince consumers they need one," says Sid Parakh, analyst at McAdams Wright Ragen. "Many of us carry an external flash drive, but I'm not sure all would want to carry around a mouse as well."

Two other mice that debuted this week from Microsoft are the Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000, which ships in October for $49, and the Wireless Notebook Laser Mouse 7000. This mouse comes with USB receiver consumers can store in the bottom of the mouse. It becomes available later this month for $49.

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