Microsoft’s attempts out replicate Apple’s successes in the retail space have always seemed… well… rather bereft of imagination and mindlessly emulative. Microsoft Stores almost always are opened in the same malls as Apple Stores, sometimes directly across the way. Instead of a Genius Bar, there’s a Guru Bar. And so on.
Microsoft’s “Me Too”ism in the retail has simply been painful to watch… so painful that it prompted us to write a post entitled “Why Microsoft’s Mall of America Store Will Fail” just last month.
Looks like we were right. According to the LA Times, Microsoft’s retail stores are a complete bust, despite having been designed by George Blankenship, who helped build Apple’s own retail stores.
LA Times’ methodology is anecdotal, but still depressing: they went to the Mission Viejo Mall and scoped out the Apple and Microsoft Stores, which are situated right next to one another. Over a half hour period, 19 customers walked out of the Apple Store having made purchases, while only three did the same at the Microsoft Store… despite the fact that Windows Phone 7 has just launched after a $50 million advertising campaign.
The problem here is that Microsoft isn’t really a brand the same way Apple is: with the exception of the Xbox 360 and a few accessories, Microsoft sells software, not hardware, and so their stores aren’t showcases of their corporate inventiveness… they’re merely the same as any other big box electronics retailer. Apple’s selling an experience: Microsoft is not.