Before they were opened people scoffed at the potential of the Apple Store, saying that Gateway Computer had failed in retail and that Dell was the model for the computer industry — online, virtual stores, etc. Of course those dour prognosticators turned out to be wrong, didn’t they.
Apple’s stores are very successful and a central part of the resurgence Apple has enjoyed over the past few years. In fact I bought my latest laptop (a Macbook) specifically because of the stores rather than wait for a Dell or Lenovo to ship to me:
Honestly, had there been local stores where I could have purchased the Lenovo or Dell models I identified I probably would have bought one of them. But there weren’t so once again I’m a Mac user.
Now, as you know, Microsoft is going to open lots of stores — near Apple Stores — to showcase its products. Gadget blog Gizmodo seems to have obtained a PPT deck that shows the concept and some of the details of how the stores will be set up, complete with “Answer bar.”
John C. Dvorak (often curmudgeonly) believes this is a mistake for Microsoft. I would say, rather than outright mistake, it’s certainly a risk. Stores don’t automatically equal success; Sony Style stores are largely a failure for example. So opening stores doesn’t mean people will buy more of your stuff, although you get to control the context and environment in which it’s presented.
I once made a recommendation (several years ago) that Google open a “Google Store” (partly for the brand and partly to demo AdWords to local businesses). Nobody there took me up on it obviously.
What do you think? Do you think this new retail effort by Microsoft will pay off as it has for Apple or will it turn out to be a costly exercise in futility?