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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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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.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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