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Count us as among the folks scratching our heads in bewilderment when Microsoft announced they were going to fire up those copying machines and open a chain of retail stores. A new report finds that the effort appears to be faltering at best.
Cult of Mac is reporting that Microsoft may finally be falling on their face with at least one attempt to copy Apple -- according to the L.A. Times, their retail stores are facing an uphill battle, even as the company prepares one of their biggest stores ever directly across the aisle from the Apple Store in the Mall of America.
“L.A. Times’ methodology is anecdotal, but still depressing,” Cult of Mac notes. “They went to the Mission Viejo Mall and scoped out the Apple and Microsoft Stores, which are situated right next to one another. Over a half hour period, 19 customers walked out of the Apple Store having made purchases, while only three did the same at the Microsoft Store… despite the fact that Windows Phone 7 has just launched after a $50 million advertising campaign.”
As you may recall, Microsoft’s retail stores were designed by George Blankenship, the fellow who first helped Apple successfully build their own stores -- right down to duplicating Apple’s Genius Bar with their own “Guru Bar,” for instance.
The report seems to pin Microsoft’s problem on the fact that the company isn’t a brand name in the same way that Apple is -- aside from accessories or hardware like the Xbox 360 and Zune, Microsoft is primarily a software company, which is harder to showcase in a retail environment since it requires Redmond to use hardware by other manufacturers.
Microsoft’s biggest problem, however, is of their own making: You can find most of their product elsewhere for dirt cheap (i.e., Windows-based netbooks, laptops, et al), while Apple is considered more “exclusive” to begin with. The L.A. Times report seems to indicate that no amount of new stores will help Microsoft combat that challenge, but good luck trying, at any rate.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter