Friday, April 6, 2012

Let's Learn Some More Business Idioms!

Today's Wall Street Journal has an article about Microsoft trying to catch
up with Apple and Google in the apps market. Let's use this article to learn some new American English business vocabulary ... because that's what this website is all about: helping you learn more business English expressions and idioms so that you can communicate more effectively. By the way, if you like this blog, please become a follower -- and share it with a friend. So here we go with the Wall Street Journal article extract, expressions we will focus on are in BOLD:

Microsoft Banks on Mobile Apps

Microsoft Corp., struggling to dent the dominance of Apple Inc. and Google Inc. in the smartphone market, is stepping up efforts to court app makers like Hemi Weingarten.

Last fall, Microsoft aggressively recruited Mr. Weingarten to convince him to build his nutrition app Fooducate for its Windows Phone. Microsoft proposed putting a Fooducate engineer in Tel Aviv through a weeklong boot camp, and offered a new Windows-based Nokia phone for software testing.

Yet despite the enticements, Fooducate skipped the boot camp and chose not to develop a Windows Phone app.

"We decided to focus our energies on the bigger platforms" of Apple's iPhone and Google's Android, said Mr. Weingarten, the 41-year-old chief executive of Fooducate. He said he plans to develop for Windows Phone eventually.

His experience highlights how Microsoft is actively trying to woo developers to the Windows Phone—as well as the hurdles the software maker faces in getting app makers on board.

Now let's discuss the vocabulary from the article:

(to) bank on - to count on; to rely on (as a way to make money). You may hear people say, "You can bank on it!" As in this example: "Boss, do you think I'll get a promotion this year?" -- "You can bank on it!"

(to) step up efforts - to increase efforts; to try harder at something (Yes, you can be sure that Microsoft is stepping up its efforts in the app market - Apple is making a killing in this market! Make a killing means make lots and lots of money).

boot camp - an intensive training program. This expression comes from the military, where it means a training camp for military recruits. (Let's hope the participants in Microsoft's boot camp had more fun than people in a military boot camp -- at least they were probably served better food!).

(to) focus our energies on - to focus on; to devote resources to (In this case, savvy Mr. Weingarten of Fooducate has decided to "focus his energies on" developing apps for the iTunes and Android marketplaces -- and no wonder, they are huge. To tell you the truth, I didn't even know Microsoft had an apps marketplace until I read this Wall Street Journal article!).

woo - to try to win the favor of; to seek the support of. This verb has a second meaning: to gain the love of (usually a woman), for the purpose of marriage

to face hurdles - to deal with obstacles or problems (hurdles are problems you have to solve before you can do something). This handy little idiom also made the headlines of Wired Magazine recently: Google Glasses Face Serious Hurdles, Augmented-Reality Experts Say.

(to) get someone on board - to get someone to join or agree to something; to go along with something. (On board also means when you're on some form of transportation - like on board a bus, on board a train, on board a plane -- so to help you remember this, picture yourself on a plane with a group of business people, having a great talk, all of you in agreement with each other!).

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