Microsoft On Medis Charger Purchase: 'Akin To Buying a Frisbee'

Includes: MDTL, MSFT
by: Herb Greenberg

I see that MarketWatch's John Letzing beat me to the punch (scooped me on my own story!) regarding Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) comments that it has no plans to sell fuel cell chargers from Medis Technologies (OTC:MDTL). (Nice job, John.)

The skimpy Medis press release last Friday, about the Microsoft deal, gave no detail, but helped goose the stock. In subsequent interviews, Medis executives pumped up the importance of the deal. Business development manager Andrew Udis went so far as to tell the publication, Inside Greentech, that the Microsoft commitment was expected to be "in the millions" and that Microsoft intends to offer its fuel cell to the public. "They've branded these products and plan to sell these around the world," Udis was quoted as saying.

Now hear this: A Microsoft spokesman, noting that the order was "small," told me there has been "inaccurate" information in the marketplace about what Microsoft plans to do with the fuel cells. "We have no plans to resell these products around the world," she said. She added that Microsoft has no plans "for development of the product."

Then what is Microsoft doing with it? As John says in his piece, Microsoft plans to use the Medis products as a giveaway at an upcoming a chatchke. Yet another Medis announcement that isn't quite what it appears to be.

Jonathan Weil of Glass Lewis, the proxy and research firm, added color in a report to his firm's clients. He quoted a Microsoft spokesman as saying the Medis product is "not a Microsoft branded product. He added that the total purchase price was "less than $15,000. We have no agreements with them. No joint development. There's no partnership around accessories. If you think of this as akin to Microsoft buying a pen or a Frisbee -- that's the way you should think of it."

That pretty much confirms what I got in a "background" conversation with Microsoft.