Upon thinking about Microsoft entry into the retail space, a few thoughts occur.
Microsoft have a really deep seated envy of everything that Apple does. Now, they’ve always had this from the very first meeting about Windows 1.0, and in the past they could get away with it.
After all, despite all Apple’s efforts, they were not a mainstream company. Microsoft and their partners dominated and no-one outside Apple’s niche had ever heard of them.
All the great unwashed saw was ever greater ‘innovation’ coming from Redmond. They did not know that this innovation was a photocopied, me-too agenda based upon what Apple did.
This approach works fine, as long as Apple remains a niche.
Can you really say that Apple Inc. is at this current moment ‘a niche player’?
Group together everything that Apple does, the Mac, iPod, iPhone etc, and their approaching 10% market share (and even greater mind-share), I think not.
Why does this make a difference? Well, Microsoft can keep up the pretense of being an ‘innovator’ as long as no-one (or at least the majority) knows that Apple exists.
This is all the more difficult, and one very good reason this is getting harder, is because of those pesky Apple Retail Stores.
People used to listen to their ‘geeky friend’ on what computer to purchase, which was usually, if not always Windows.
That’s not the case now, they see an Apple Store, go in, and more often than not, purchase. I don’t know what their footfall conversion rate is (the % of customer who enter a store and either do or do not purchase something), but according to Apple 50% of those purchases are to Windows users.
So what is Microsoft to do? Well there’s only one thing to do, fight fire with fire.
But Microsoft has a problem, and it’s a problem that cannot be got around. The PC model is proprietary OS on open hardware. Apple’s model is open OS (sort, parts of etc), on proprietary hardware.
Now I don’t care what people say, Apple’s model gives us more reliable computers, Microsoft’s model gives problems – lot of them, with more chances to go wrong.
Apple’s model is naturally fits the retail environment. People enter Apple Stores for an experience. Yes, they take their computers in to be fixed, and Apple manages that quite well, as their model keeps those fixes down to an acceptable level.
Microsoft? Their model invites problems, how the hell are they going to manage all those PC users with viruses, spam, malware and faulty hardware because their ‘geeky friend’ made their computer?
This should be interesting to watch…