Microsoft Stores…really?

So I was in the Prudential Mall the other day, in Boston, and saw a most peculiar sight – an announcement of a new Microsoft Store. Hmmm I wondered, I had heard that the software giant was thinking of such a move. Clearly their friends at Apple have tweaked them by becoming wildly successful with the Apple stores. No surprise that this particular Microsoft store is going to be opened across the street from where the Apple Store is located. What to make of this?

  • Microsoft is playing catch up with Apple when it comes consumer facing. I am not sure opening a store is going to close that gap. Microsoft is the plumbing that allows PCs and other devices to function. Apple is the experience – does anyone go into an Apple store because of a new version of Lion? Well probably some people…but still that is not the draw.
  • Microsoft does not really have its own branded “cool” devices…maybe the Xbox, but otherwise they are just sitting on other devices – Lenovo, HP, Dell to name a few. So will the Microsoft store have all these devices? If so, how is that any different than Best Buy? Apple’s devices are eye candy as well as being great products (I never thought I would say that 15 years ago), not sure Microsoft has that in their repertoire.
  • The Apple stores are great because they offer service for your Apple products. I would argue that if Microsoft offered this service they would have people queuing up for days since we have all had our fair share of issues with the OS. But in Microsoft’s case this might not be a good thing.

I get that Microsoft is trying to get back in the game with regards to Apple. But I think focusing on better products and experience would be a good step rather than a store. Maybe if Microsoft focused their stores on the Xbox as the anchor they might have a fighting chance. Apple does not have a comparable gaming platform, the only one that really does is Sony. Microsoft could look at their stores as a way to showcase the Xbox and potentially work with the likes of EA to make the experience closer to a gaming/entertainment venue. If they just showcase clunky laptops and tablets…they are not going to beat the experience and products available at the Apple store.

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