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Windows Phone gets schooled by Wharton class

May 04, 2012|By Michelle Maltais
  • Wharton students in Associate Professor Americus Reed's marketing course present their recommendations to Microsoft executives about the Windows Phone platform.
Wharton students in Associate Professor Americus Reed's marketing… ( Alyssa Cwanger/ For the…)

As Microsoft hopes to graduate into more prominence in the mobile space, Windows Phone has gone to school for finals Friday morning.

A marketing class of twentysomethings at the Wharton School in Pennsylvania is standing face-to-face with Microsoft executives to tell them how to make Windows Phone more relevant in today's market. 

For the last several months, students in Americus Reed's Consumer Behavior class have been gathering and studying data and developing recommendations. Microsoft has the students sign nondisclosure agreements and gives them access to real business data. 

And after a semester analyzing the competition, observing users, conducting focus groups and developing their own hypotheses, the students Friday presented six Microsoft executives with their findings and recommendations.

The students "love it because it's learning that occurs not just in the ivory towers," Reed, an associate professor of marketing, told The Times. The connection, he told The Times, comes from applying the elements he's teaching "to something real that matters to somebody."

Over the last 12 years, Reed has given his class real-world case studies with access to the live elements and executives involved. Previous classes have evaluated L'Oreal, Stride Rite, Planet Fitness and Nike, he said.

This year's case study came about, in fact, because one of Reed's former students mentioned this cool class he took at Wharton to his colleagues at Microsoft. Jeremiah Marble, now product manager in Microsoft’s Windows Phone Division, served as the class' liaison to the company.

Microsoft's executives have visited the class three times this semester, Reed told The Times --  to kick off the class, check in and now for the final presentation.

The students' work culminates in a 15-minute presentation. Wharton junior Lauren Lubetsky told the Daily Pennsylvanian that their presentation will comprise recommendations on the most lucrative target for the product's market, “and how to best position the product and tailor the messaging to successfully reach that target demographic.”

The companies that have participated in Reed's classes over the years "get to tap into 140 smart brains" for about 3,000 man-hours, he said. And the students have gotten access to business examples they can care about as well as executives with hiring power. And they do, from time to time, cherry-pick the stars.

"What's beautiful about it, I've done this 12 years, and every time its a huge win-win for everyone," Reed told The Times.

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