When 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?