Microsoft Goes the Way of Apple: A New PC Retail Store Experience

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It’s official. Microsoft has announced its latest ‘Me-too’ venture to emulate its rival Apple:  a PC and Microsoft retail purchase experience for consumers worldwide through the development and opening of the company’s own retail stores.

David Porter, corporate vice president of Retail Stores, Microsoft.

Microsoft has hired David Porter to lead this effort. Porter was Vice President and general merchandise manager at  DreamWorks Animation in 2007. Prior to this, he spent 25 years at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in roles of increasing responsibility and seniority in store operations, merchandising and information technology.

What will a Microsoft store experience look like? Unlike Apple which offers an array of items including iPhones, iMacs, iPods and more, Microsoft does not have much to show besides its PCs, its Xbox 360, the Zune, and their various peripherals. Is it realistic to create a lifestyle experience in a down economy which has negatively impacted retail giants like Circuit City and Best Buy who had a whole lot more to offer?

Apple is one of the very few technology companies that has been able to successfully  create its own retail experience:  in 2004, computer maker Gateway Inc. shuttered a network of more than 188 company-owned retail stores after weak sales. Microsoft itself operated a Microsoft store inside the Sony Metreon movie-theater  complex in San Francisco beginning in 1999, but two years later shut down the store — which showcased, but didn’t sell, Microsoft products. (WSJ). What does this mean for Microsoft’s new retail plan?  Is it another foolhardy venture or does it present a sustainable opportunity?

Consumers are the best judge, especially in this economy. Will you unleash your pocketbook at the Microsoft shopping experience? Or just go online to search for the best deal?

Image Credit: Microsoft

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