Microsoft is planning to open the first of its planned retail stores next to existing Apple stores this fall.
While it’s easy to criticize the move, it has its advantages:
- Apple’s already done the homework, and proved these locations will draw foot traffic for this type of store.
- Microsoft can immediately imply they’re “worthy” of selling to the same crowd Apple does by setting up shop in the same area.
- Their stores will be located near shoppers already out looking at electronics.
There are some bad things about it, though:
- It’s an obvious example of Microsoft following Apple, not leading the industry or thinking for themselves.
- Being close to Apple will invite comparisons they could easily lose.
I’m not sure if the pros outweigh the cons.
Meanwhile, I’m not clear what Microsoft plans to sell in these stores? If they choose to stock it will “Apple-like” items such as upscale PCs, Zune players, etc. then they can’t tout how they’re so much cheaper than Macs. But if they stock it with “Best Buy-like” cheap PCs then it’ll look like… a Best Buy.
Ultimately, I really don’t see this as a question of location, but rather one of why the heck Microsoft is opening stores in the first place. Having made the decision, however, and with so many electronics chains in trouble, perhaps opening yet another one without nodding to Apple’s brilliance in this area would be even dumber than blatantly copying it.