Much coverage this week of Microsoft starting its own retail stores. And plenty of brickbats for Microsoft for pursuing a "Me-Too!" Apple strategy.However, I'd like to give Microsoft some kudos for deciding to open a consumer store. It's a brave step because like many potential consumers I can't really get excited about an MS store (compared to the Apple stores which are always fun to go in) - and I'm sure they are aware of this. For a manufacturer to start selling directly is a big thing (we call it Manufacturer D2C) - you can bet they endlessly discussed potential channel conflict, whether to staff it with MS employees or contractors, and what sort of "personality" will be on display.Plus, it can only be *good* thing for MS to get some direct contact with consumers. You can't hide away from criticism if you invite customers to buy from you. All it remains for them to do is to really listen to that voice of the customer, and then act on it.
Not many SKUs?
I counted less than 100 SKUs on the Microsoft Online Store so not too many space issues, I guess. Plenty of vacant retail property at the moment for Microsoft to occupy - old Woolworth stores perhaps?Excellent commentary from Robert X. Cringley on how Microsoft is becoming WalMart-ed here.
... as Sony closes store
In a reverse step, Sony announced today that it would close it's flagship PlayStation store in downtown San Francisco. With a slightly mixed message, Sony spokeswoman Liz Archibald said "...we felt it best not to continue with a dedicated PlayStation Store at the Metreon at this time, ...[but]... We are actively looking at other opportunities to offer PlayStation products through direct retail channels."Sony is also closing a Style store devoted to its products in the Metreon - so could this mean a global ramp-up of SonyStyle online stores?