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Our phones are an expensive investment, but it goes deeper than that in today's mobile market. We aren't just buying the phone anymore, or just a mobile OS and calling it a day. Now we're buying the phone, as well as buying into the ecosystem it represents. For those who buy an iPhone, it's not just about using Apple's phone; it's also about wading into the App Store, or iTunes, and making sure that you spend money to stay inside their walled garden.

It's the same for Android, or Windows Phone, and even BlackBerry. They want you to buy their phones, but they also want to make sure that you keep buying from their connected digital stores so you stay inside their family moving forward. It isn't a strange, or incorrect, hope that if you buy enough within the ecosystem that you'll feel too invested to switch to something else. After all, why would you want to start over, right?

Or, moreover, why would you want to buy all those apps you paid good money for again?

Manufacturers and the companies behind the mobile operating systems know this. They know that the "other guys," the competition, is working hard on keeping their customers tucked inside their warm blankets, and bringing them whatever they need to keep them there for the long run. But it's a rough ride, and it's never easy. (We're not counting the diehard fanboys here, for the record.)

There are always new beds, with different, more advanced mattresses released all the time. With different blankets, and comforters, and pillows, and . . . Well, you get the idea. For someone sleeping comfortably in the Apple camp to see something like HTC's One, or even the recent Nexus 5, it can get pretty tempting to jump out of bed and try to find somewhere else to sleep.

Companies like Microsoft have a lot of work to do to make people look at their offerings, and an even bigger effort is needed to get people to actually make the switch. I think Microsoft has done an impressive first step with their Windows Phone OS, as it stands out against the crowd, and offers another option for anyone who's looking for a fast and stable mobile operating system.

It's the next step, the apps and the phones and the hardware specifications, that's proven a bit more difficult for the company as of late. But the hardware is changing, getting more advanced and better able to compete with the high-end devices that Android has been known to release for quite some time now. And the apps are coming, slowly but surely. But Microsoft knows that while those are the necessary steps, they still need some type of incentive for some consumers. The people who have invested in other ecosystems, but maybe not so much that they're unwilling to switch.

That's why I'm not so surprised to see Microsoft (and AT&T, by extension) offering up so much on a serving platter for the release of the Lumia 1520.

We heard rumors that the Lumia 1520 was going to launch on November 22 not too long ago, and it turns out that that is indeed the truth. But it's not just the phone that's going to find your way into your pocket if you pull the trigger on a purchase. Both Microsoft and AT&t are offering up some sizable incentives to get your hands on this new, formidable device.

Microsoft is throwing in a free copy of the recently released *Halo: Spartan Assault*, and you'll also get a $50 Microsoft Store gift card if you buy the device from Microsoft directly (online or in a brick and mortar store). If you preorder the device, Microsoft will also throw in a free flip cover for the handset, too.

If you go the AT&T route, you'll get a $20 Windows Phone gift card, along with 50GB of AT&T Locker cloud storage thrown in.

Incentives are certainly a tantalizing addition to any purchase. We like when things are thrown in for good measure, to reward us for our purchase. When it comes to these incentives, though, it's pretty clear that Microsoft is throwing in what they believe will get a lot of people to switch. A free $50 is a pretty nice deal, even if you want to see it as getting $50 off your phone purchase. That's a lot of apps, and it could soften the blow of buying some apps twice, if that's what you need to do.

But do they work? That's what I want to know from you. We don't hear a lot about incentives these days, but they do happen. A lot of free cases here and there, and sometimes some gift cards if you buy a particular device. Does that sway you to pull the trigger on a purchase? Or do you just ignore them completely? Let me know.


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