Thursday, August 2, 2012

Will the Microsoft Store be a hit at The Village

Microsoft is pulling out all the stops to make a big impression with its new store at The Village Corte Madera.

Currently under construction and surrounded by an enormous billboard, the store will occupy the space formerly leased to Pottery Barn Kids, and will be almost twice as large as the center's Apple store, comparisons to which we can expect to see in abundance.

Electronics retailing is facing huge changes these days. At one end we have the unparalleled success of the Apple Store, while at the other, the once unbeatable Best Buy is struggling in the face of competition from online retailing. Microsoft is of course aiming to position itself alongside Apple, and is making every effort to mimic the Apple store in terms of appearance, location and store layout. The one area Microsoft can't mimic Apple is merchandising, and many observers believe this may be its downfall.The Apple Store's success is tied to its brand, and the popularity of the Apple brand has allowed the Apple store network to grow with massive profitability, much in the same way other retail brands, such as GAP and Starbucks have done. 

We go to the Apple store because the iMac, the iPhone and the iPad are hugely popular and desirable items. What equivalent products does Microsoft have to offer? I had to go on their website to find out. The key products appear to be a Windows Phone, the Xbox game console, and a collection of laptops from various manufactures featuring Windows software. There's also a tablet called Microsoft Surface that's due to be released next month. Will die-hard Microsoft junkies be lining up at the store at midnight the day before it's release? I somehow doubt it. But I'll be curious to see how well the store does.

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