Microsoft Stores Won’t Fall Far from Apple’s Tree

By  |  Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 6:23 pm

Microsoft StoreWhen Microsoft opens its retail stores this far, look no further than your local Apple store to find one. The software giant has designs to open many of its store in close proximity to its rival, according to reports.

Microsoft announced its intention to open retail stores in February. It placed David Porter, a new Microsoft corporate vice president and 25-year Wal-Mart veteran, as the executive in charge of its retail endeavors.

The notion that a Microsoft store could succeed has faced skepticism. Apple sells complete systems; whereas, Microsoft primarily remains a software company. Porter is working with Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division, but throwing an Xbox in a window doesn’t exactly replicate the shopping experience of the Apple store.

When Microsoft announced its intentions to open store, I wrote that selling software in retail stores should be about as successful as opening a video rental business in 2010 (and made a crack comparing its stores to Wasabi flavored ice cream). My colleague Harry McCracken believes that a Microsoft store makes as much sense as a Procter & Gamble store.

Without having been privy to Microsoft’s plans, I still feel that way. I recently stopped by the Apple store at Fifth Avenue in Manhattan (the one with the giant glass cube out front) to exchange a faulty iPhone, and was amazed by how psyched people were to be giving their money to Apple. That store alone clears nearly $500 million a year in sales.

What’s more, it’s located across the street from Central Park, and it was a beautiful day when I visited. People seemed to be just as happy inside of the store as they were strolling by the park. Anyone out there want to argue that Microsoft customers have the same affinity for that company’s products?

 
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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Robert Says:

    If the stores look like this they will succeed. http://www.istartedsomething.com/20081205/the-new-microsoft-visitor-center/

  2. kev-dawt-dawg Says:

    You can’t replicate what you don’t know. It’s telling that MS grabbed a veteran from Wal*Mart to head up this division instead of a insider at Apple Retail.

    However, I wonder if what MS is going to do is make new PC hardware appliances and sell that stuff, as well as market some home and corporate training.

    MS could have success as an up-market sales and training channel but if they start to blur the line between their offerings and those of Wal*Mart (and other retailers), then they might loose their differentiator and what remains of their credibility. This just might be a make or break play by MS to compete for mindshare with Apple for retail dollars and if it fails they will be relegated to a software and wholesaler for decades to come.

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