Corporate Eye

Microsoft is Late to the Party – Again

Once again, Microsoft is desperately trying to copy their cooler competitor, Apple.  This time, the company is jumping on the brick-and-mortar retail location bandwagon.  Introducing Microsoft Retail Stores!

There is no doubt that the Apple stores have helped Steve Jobs and friends create one of the most powerful relationship brands by surrounding consumers with another branded experience where they can share the brand they love.  The Apple stores employ cool employees, give free training sessions to new owners, and the Genius Bar is always hopping with satisfied customers getting the help they need and further interacting with the brand.  It’s a fun store to hang out in!

Can Microsoft create anything close to what Apple has developed with its retail stores?

Let’s face it.  Microsoft has a lot to live up to in comparison.  I suppose that’s why the first store, which opened in Scottsdale, Arizona, has a modern design that practically duplicates the design of an Apple store.  I guess Microsoft copied Apple’s Mac Guy vs. PC Guy commercials, so why not copy their stores, too?  Check out the similarities in the exterior and interior pictures of the Scottsdale Microsoft store below.  Incredibly similar to an Apple store, wouldn’t you say?

Microsoft store exterior

Microsoft Store AZ outside

Microsoft store interior

Microsoft Store AZ

And here’s a picture of an Apple store for comparison

Apple store

Poor Microsoft.  Always trying to catch up to the cool brand but with no real brand promise or identity of its own.  What does the Microsoft brand mean and what does it stand for?  A retail store can’t help until the company figures out the answers to those questions and then lives up to those promises.

Microsoft claims the company is trying to create a branding experience by opening retail stores, but what is the message behind that experience?  “We’re not as cool as Apple, but you can hang out here and get a 15-minute session for free with an employee to set up your applications, preferences, etc. when you buy a product from us.  Hurry in!  The timer is already ticking and your 15-minutes are almost up!  Don’t worry.  We know you’ll be back, because something won’t work correctly.  See you soon!”

Where would you rather hang out?  The Apple store or the Microsoft store?

Images: Flickr 1, 2, 3

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, TodayShow.com, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.
 
Comments

People forget or don’t know, that Microsoft once saved Apple’s “bacon”.. I wonder if Steve J. would have done the same if the roles were reversed, or would he just have had his PR dept. make fun of misfortune… As I recall, this was at the time a big embarrassment for Apple..

http://aroundcny.com/Technofile/texts/tec081097.html

I’m pretty sure that was because of an antitrust suit brought against Microsoft by Apple. I’m not sure that your point is valid.

I’m pretty sure there are already Microsoft stores. They are called Best Buy.

I believe Susan Gunelius is a PC Hater. I’ve read multiple articles that she has written on news about Microsoft. No one cares if you hate Microsoft or not. Tell that to somebody else lady. Your job is just to report that Microsoft has created Microsoft Stores and again just report that Microsoft plans on changing the name for netbooks–not go on and on about how much you hate Microsoft. And then you expect people to blog on this article? How can there be bloggers’ opinions be honest when you’ve written such a biased article? I mean the message in your articles involving news about Microsoft is very bias: the articles scream ANTI-MICROSOFT and Microsoft=Negative. Give you bloggers an opportunity to take their own stand before convincing them that Microsoft sucks compared to Apple. Amen.

Instead of going off on non sequiturs and shoot-the-messenger rants like the other commenters, I will answer the question asked.

I would want to hang out at an Apple Store, hands down! The Microsoft Store was chock-full of non-working demo models and half-baked attempts at new products.

For crying out loud, they had on display a touchscreen tablet with a mouse and a keyboard! The designs feel cheap and you feel like you are getting ripped off walking into a store that you know is a direct knockoff of the Apple Store that literally sits across the mall.

Until the haters realize the value of attention-to-detail, design perfectionism, and user experience, they will continue to be bewildered by the success of brands like Apple.

PS. I’m also a PC user who wishes Microsoft didn’t suck so much.

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