Checking out the Microsoft retail store

February 13, 2009

When it comes to Microsoft, you can count on one thing: Whatever they do will get plenty of scrutiny in on the wires, in newspapers, and across blogs. Think A-Rod or Brad and Angelina.

Last night, they announced plans to start opening retail stores, which generated a lot of attention (rightfully so, too). Here’s the plan, as Reuters put its:

The world’s largest software company, which also makes the Xbox video game console and the Zune digital music player, did not say how many stores it was looking to open, or when, or which of its products would be on sale.

That is to be decided by David Porter, a former DreamWorks Animation executive, which Microsoft named as its new vice president of retail stores.

Turner, a former Wal-Mart Stores Inc manager, will report to Microsoft chief operating officer Kevin Turner.

The long-rumored move to open stores comes as consumer spending is under severe pressure due to the recession, which has already pushed electronics chain Circuit City into bankruptcy. A similar attempt by computer maker Gateway to open its own stores some years ago was not successful.

As you would expect, plenty of others weighted in on the story. Here’s a sampling…

Silicon Alley Insider says:

If done right, Microsoft might be able to show consumers the benefits (if any) of having a Windows computer, Xbox 360, Windows Mobile phone, and Zune, all in one place. At very least, they could do a better job than Best Buy at showing off PCs. (We’re not sure how well the gurus Microsoft hired last fall to do that at other big-box stores worked out.)

Conceivably, they might convince more people to buy PCs — or at least to buy newer PCs with Windows 7.

TechCrunch writes:

“This is, of course, ripe for mockery, and we’re sure tomorrow will bring the fruits of Photoshop contests from around the web. Will it be wall-to-wall Vista boxes? Will you have to sign a license agreement to get in? Will they avoid the color “BSOD blue”? All very funny questions, but the fact is that Microsoft’s stores could be the beginning of… well, another beginning for the oft-maligned software baron. After all, despite what the web has to say, they do manufacture more than error screens.”

The Wall Street Journal notes the poor results of other tech companies looking to move into retail:

“The failures of other stores opened by technology companies will loom over Microsoft as it launches its stores. 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 a 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.”

And finally, Endgadget is spot on with this note:

“We can’t wait to see how the Simpsons mock this one.”

Keep an eye on:

  • Live Nation Inc expects to beat Wall Street’s forecasts for fourth quarter adjusted operating profit when it posts earnings next month and said 2009 summer concert ticket sales are running ahead of the same period in 2008 (Reuters)
  • YouTube, the hugely popular online video site, has renewed a global licensing deal with Sony Music Entertainment which allows it to continue showing music videos of artists like Beyonce and Avril Lavigne (Reuters)
  • Google Inc has abandoned its efforts to sell advertising for broadcast radio stations, acknowledging that the three-year project has failed (Reuters)

(Photo: Reuters)


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Dear Bill,
Your plan to open retail stores is doomed.

Microsoft’s retail software business will not be received well. This will be the biggest fiasco / failure Microsoft will ever know. Mark my words, retail marketing to the average customer is a big mistake!

Posted by Little Blue, Big Friend | Report as abusive

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