February 15, 2013
Microsoft To Expand Retail Footprint
Microsoft looks to continue to take a page from the Apple playbook. The Redmond, Wash. software giant has reaffirmed its plans to continue its retail push this year and announced that it will expand its operations with five new stores. These will reportedly open by summer.
It also comes on the heels of serious expansion last year. In 2012 Microsoft opened a total of 51 stores and is on par to add at least eleven new storefronts in 2013.
The exact openings for the new stores have not been disclosed, but the company has promised that these will be open for business by summer. Announced locations include the Natick Mall in Natick, Mass.; Ala Moana Center in Honolulu, Hawaii; Pioneer Place in Portland, Ore.; The Somerset Collection in Troy, Mich.; and the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Ill.
This follows the announcement of six new U.S. stores in San Antonio, Miami, Beachwood, San Francisco, Salt Lake City and St. Louis.
Slashgear also noted rumors that Microsoft could open its first European store in 2013. This would follow the launch of store fronts in Canada last year.
Back in 2011 the company first announced plans to open as many as 75 retail locations over a two to three year period, and at this point it seems safe to say that the company is certainly on track to meet its goals.
The move certainly seems as a way to take on Apple as the Microsoft stores are meant to provide an experience that is entertaining as well as educational. While the employees may not be labeled as “geniuses”, Microsoft has indicated that the “store associates” will be able to provide personalized information and service to suit each customer’s needs.
In a blog post, Jonathan Adashek, general manager of communications strategy, sales and marketing services group at Microsoft noted:
“Our customers continue to tell us that they value our stores for connecting them to the best of Microsoft. This delights us to no end. From the newest touchscreen laptops, desktops, and tablets running Windows 8, to Windows Phones, to Xbox and Kinect consoles and accessories, to a wide array of first and third-party software titles, our goal is to introduce you to the best choice, value and service we have to offer.”
Given that many of Microsoft’s products are available at other locations, the most obvious question to ask is whether such a move is necessary. While the company runs a series of specialty kiosks around the United States, which feature a sample of the best of Microsoft’s offerings, specialty stores provide a way for consumers to get their hands on more of the product line – and without being able to compare it to what the competition offers.
As Cnet noted, “Third-party retailers such as Best Buy do carry Surface and other Windows 8 tablets and PCs. But those can get lost in the mix of all the other products. And even Surface was initially available in the flesh only at Microsoft stores.”
Thus having its own retail presence could put it on par with Apple; or at least will once Microsoft catches up to its rival in total stores. To do so could require a lot of brick and mortar as Apple clearly has a lead in stores.