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Microsoft looks to force more retail competition with Apple

Two of the most recognizable brands in the computer world are Apple and Microsoft. The rivalry between the two firms goes back to the foundations of both companies and the current crop of commercials both firms are airing each attack the other.

Microsoft is taking the fight to venues other than TV with the announcement that new retail stores are coming and some of them will be in close proximity to Apple stores. The announcement came during a keynote speech at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2009 that was held on July 15. Microsoft COO Kevin Tuner said during the keynote that the company would be opening retail stores to take advantage of customer demand for products at the retail level.

A Microsoft Spokesperson wrote in a blog post, "As we progress on our retail strategy there will be scenarios where we have stores in proximity to Apple. We are on track to open stores in the Fall timeframe. Beyond that we have no additional details to share."

Turner is particularly well suited to the task of setting up a Microsoft retail presence. He comes from Wal-Mart stores where he started as a cashier and worked his way up to CEO of Sam's Club stores. Microsoft has also hired David Porter in the last few months, another retail focused executive.

When Porter was hired Microsoft said, "Defining the time frame, locations and specifics for planned Microsoft-branded retail stores will be Porter's first order of business. The purpose of opening these stores is to create deeper engagement with consumers and continue to learn first-hand about what they want and how they buy."

EWeek quotes Turner from the WPC 2009 event saying, "And we're going to showcase this opportunity of Windows simplicity, choice, value, and partners. And stay tuned, because we're going to have some retail stores opened up that are opened up right next door to Apple stores this fall. Stay tuned, just stay tuned. "

"Every single thing we learn in those Microsoft stores that we put on the street we're going to share that openly and transparently with all of our retail partners so that they can do the exact same thing. And we're going to get that customer feedback directly. We're in the game for the long-term here. And I know something about retail, and we've hired and incredible team to do an incredible job on retail."

Turner also spoke at the conference about the Laptop Hunter retail ads that the company has been running. He pointed out that the ads are unscripted and are working. Evidence that the ads are putting pressure on Apple according to Turner came in the form of a phone call.

Turner says that Microsoft received a call from Apple legal saying, "Hey, you need to stop running those ads, we lowered our prices.' They took like $100 off or something. It was the greatest single phone call in the history that I've ever taken in business. I did cartwheels down the hallway. At first I said, 'Is this a joke? Who are you?' Not understanding what an opportunity. And so we're just going to keep running them and running them and running them."

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Would these retail stores include...
By Regs on 7/16/2009 1:09:14 PM , Rating: 2
40-60 dollar HDMI cables?

RE: Would these retail stores include...
By Mitch101 on 7/16/2009 2:43:40 PM , Rating: 5
Possibly if your cheap and don't buy Monster Cables at BestBuy for $80-$120.00 with real gold color plating and shielded optical cables so the government and aliens cant interfere with your stuff.

RE: Would these retail stores include...
By SublimeSimplicity on 7/16/2009 2:49:43 PM , Rating: 5
Go ahead and mock them...

I can tell you that after hooking up my monster cables, I had never seen 1's that were so 1-like and the 0s... ohhh the 0s. You haven't truly experience binary until you've tried a monster cable.

RE: Would these retail stores include...
By Souka on 7/16/2009 3:11:36 PM , Rating: 2
Look around on the net for real analysis/reviews of HDMNI cables side... I"ve never read a REAL review that says a $200 on a 10ft HDMI cable is better than a $20 one.

But...I do sure see a lot of people saying otherwise..typically with a comment like, "Are you crazy? That $10 HDMI cable sucks! You have to buy a $150 monster cable if yuo want quality..." etc etc

Anyhow... whut does HDMI have to do with MS stores eh?

RE: Would these retail stores include...
By Souka on 7/16/2009 3:22:06 PM , Rating: 2
Oh..but I do clearly believe you're a LOT more likely to get a defective $10 6-ft hdmi cable than when you buy a $30 of same length... same goes for $100+ for a monster or equiv.

At my work we dropped $90 for a few 10ft HDMI cables for our projectors hooking to our laptops... I recall the packaging saying they were rated as "ruggidized"..which is good since people at my work tend to abuse things...

Image quality was no different than the uber-cheapo $5 HDMIs we were using

By Mitch101 on 7/16/2009 3:44:10 PM , Rating: 2
Souka! Souka! Hey your replying to yourself and were making fun of expensive cables at retail outlets that are sold to unsuspecting consumers. Its ok sarcasm sometimes gets lost in post translation. But go get that replying to yourself addressed.

By Mitch101 on 7/16/2009 3:38:04 PM , Rating: 2
I noticed you said monster cables. Not monster ultimate cables so you might as well use wire hangers your cables are so lame. You've been served geek squad style times infinity google!

By callmeroy on 7/17/2009 8:24:29 AM , Rating: 2
You want a bit of entertainment at Best Buy? First don't just act like you've NEVER heard of Monster Cables or never did any reasearch prior to coming to the store....ASK them WHY monster cables are so expensive and why they are better than others.....

Try not to laugh to loud though -- its a bit embarrassing...

By SpaceJumper on 7/16/2009 2:58:40 PM , Rating: 4
HDMI is digital, do not get fool by expensive cable, inside the cable is made up of four 100ohm coaxial cables.
Monster Cable does not improve picture quality, because the video signal is simply digital. I measured the cheapest HDMI cable with an network analyzer and the results are the same with any expensive one.

By noirsoft on 7/17/2009 4:30:24 PM , Rating: 2
I was once old by a sales droid at Fry's that I needed to hook up my mom's PS3 directly to her TV and not go through a receiver because the receiver would degrade the HDMI signal. He also tried to sell me expensive cables.

Genius bar?
By Alphafox78 on 7/16/2009 1:09:40 PM , Rating: 1
One of the main things at the apple store is the Genius Bar. other than that an apple store just sells stuff, which is what all the other retail stores do with MS products. so if there is no 'help desk' Genius Bar type thing then what makes the MS sotre any different than a wall mart??

RE: Genius bar?
By AssBall on 7/16/2009 1:37:24 PM , Rating: 4
If they had a bar I'd definately check it out. Free Microsoft Martini with your purchase of Works!

RE: Genius bar?
By Lord 666 on 7/16/2009 1:40:15 PM , Rating: 1
Great place to get an over the counter replacement for a RROD Xbox 360.

RE: Genius bar?
By aGreenAgent on 7/16/2009 1:39:31 PM , Rating: 2
I hope that's one of the main points of a Microsoft store. It's not like MS has a problem selling their products, but what they don't have, is an easy support venue. It really just makes sense that they're opening up a support venue, with people who know about products to make them look good.

RE: Genius bar?
By chmilz on 7/16/2009 6:53:16 PM , Rating: 5
I went to my local Apple store for giggles, and the "genius" at the Genius bar told me Vista sucks, crashes, will make my future children ugly, and so on and so forth. So far, my conclusion is that it should be retitle the F-ing Moron bar, because these people willingly let Jobs shove a Mac Pro up their rectum.

RE: Genius bar?
By artemicion on 7/16/2009 7:39:40 PM , Rating: 2
I dunno why you got rated down, you're absolutely right.

Don't get me wrong, most of the "Geniuses" at the Genius Bar are largely inept (though the one in Ann Arbor had a few decent dudes - probably CS/CE/EE majors at the university). The huuuuge draw of the Genius Bar is the fact that lay computer users don't know that their Genius is inept and therefore there's a lot of (albiet somewhat false) comfort in having a nearby Genius Bar. Multiple non-techy friends have told me that they feel (an inordinate amount of) comfort knowing that they can walk their laptop down the street in case something goes wrong.

If I were MS I'd make sure they had a genius bar equivalent. Doesn't matter if they're competant, just throw out some false security out there for the consumers.

RE: Genius bar?
By Tom mc3s on 7/17/2009 1:27:28 AM , Rating: 2
True technicians should probably set their sights a little higher than working at an Apple Genius Bar or for Best Buy's Geek Squad for example. Although I'm sure there's certainly exceptions to the rule.

I think others have hit it on the head with Microsoft being able to personally interact with their customers at these retail outlets. With Win7 looking like a winner already I'd like to see them capitalize as much as possible on that. If anything, though, competition is always great for the consumer.

Intel vs. AMD 2.0
By DeathBooger on 7/16/2009 1:45:54 PM , Rating: 5
Apple is about to get pummeled into submission. Same thing happened to AMD. You shouldn't piss off a giant. Serves Apple right for making those ridiculous cocky commercials.

RE: Intel vs. AMD 2.0
By headbox on 7/16/2009 4:52:09 PM , Rating: 2
Intel & Microsoft = apples & oranges. Just because one giant did well doesn't mean another one will.

Apple killed the Gateway stores and the Dell kiosks at my local malls.

RE: Intel vs. AMD 2.0
By tim851 on 7/17/2009 12:18:34 AM , Rating: 3
That would be bad though. It's basically the only competition for MS. There would probably not be a Windows 7 (at least not by the end of '09) without the stiff competition from Mac OS X. (comp. not in terms of sales, but prestige)

It's the same as with the iPhone: nowadays, there are like two dozen blatant clones. How is it that Apple had to come out with the first, amazing iPhone for all the other lame a$$ companies to get it?

You may hate Apple or their customers for being snobby, but Apple has always been pushing the envelope and without them, things might again get too comfy for the others.

By kyleb2112 on 7/16/2009 6:55:01 PM , Rating: 4
It'll be a funny contrast if the Windows store has got a section packed full of games, and the "hip" Mac store has nothing...or worse: Mac games.

I don't see this ending well for MS
By heavydevelopment on 7/16/09, Rating: -1
RE: I don't see this ending well for MS
By PhoenixKnight on 7/16/2009 3:00:17 PM , Rating: 5
I'd like to hang out in a Mac store with a Zune and a laptop running Linux, just to be different.

RE: I don't see this ending well for MS
By tkekyle on 7/16/2009 3:38:11 PM , Rating: 3
Just another example of how the technologically inept are buoying up apple. I would bet my life savings that the judge who was convinced that was actually 'distributing' copyrighted material (as opposed to hash codes for other people) was a mac user.

Apple will never overtake Microsoft. The driving factor for/agaisnt Apple for the past decade+ has been compatibility. People who are concerned with security love how incompatible Apple is with windows because cyber-delinquents rarely target Macs with malicious software. Reason being, they only command 5-10% of the market so why would you waste your time? On the other hand people who want a computer for general use hate Mac (or used to) because of how incompatible it is with the software they often want to use. So as the Mac becomes more compatible with windows, the market of people who use it for security reasons will shrink and the people using Macs for general purpose computers will grow. *However*, one of two things will happen. Either the Mac will just be swallowed up by microsoft (unlikely because of anti-trust laws) or it will become so close to windows that there has the be a deciding factor that is unrelated to the quality of the machine. Those unrelated factors are brand recognition, price, and prevalence. Obviously microsoft wins.

My advice to apple is to keep trying to stake out other computer-related markets and move away from computer development.

RE: I don't see this ending well for MS
By cserwin on 7/16/2009 4:39:17 PM , Rating: 5
Ummm... if I were selling a product, I would much rather be in the business of selling to the technologically inept than the technologically savy. It's a much, much bigger market.

By quiksilvr on 7/18/2009 2:57:22 AM , Rating: 3
That's the case to everything. You don't sell jewelry to a jeweler, you sell it to people who don't know a damn thing about, cut, color, carat and clarity. You don't sell cell phones to people like us, you sell it to textaholics who don't realize they get charged for incoming messages too.

By Omega215D on 7/17/2009 2:56:16 AM , Rating: 2
I actually go to the Apple store with my Cowon S9 out in view with my Ultimate Ears headphones and my LG enV Touch cell phone.

Granted I had my 2008 MacBook in tow... (MacBooks 13" - 15" make sense, other Apple products not so much).

RE: I don't see this ending well for MS
By rcc on 7/16/2009 6:35:56 PM , Rating: 2
The reason that Apple opened it's own retail stores was because they were lacking retail distributors for their products back in 2001.

The Apple retail stores go back farther than 2001.

Other than that, the side by side should be entertaining one way or another.

I'm kind of envisioning 2 competing picket lines across the street from each other. It'll be like a political rally.

RE: I don't see this ending well for MS
By rcc on 7/16/2009 6:40:03 PM , Rating: 2
Curious, I just googled "first apple retail store" and they do claim 2001.

However, I got married in 2001, and it was years earlier that a friend and I meandered through an Apple store. ::shrugs:: name/format change?

Microsoft Retail Stores
By cliffbennett on 7/16/09, Rating: -1
"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser
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