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Microsoft Retail Outlets? True "Box" Stores and Other Nightmares

Sometimes you come across a story that reads like someone's bizarre dream. But Microsoft opening retail stores? The result of a bad case of Apple envy (which still remains king of retail store operations) is going to come back to hound the company for a long time. This is so dumb in so many ways at so many levels that it becomes difficult to stop laughing long enough to list them:

  • Microsoft has a long history of being heavily involved with a distribution channel. Whether the Xbox, the Zune (if you can find it), or various software packages, it is in stores. Yes, Apple products are in the channels as well, but Microsoft has always had a much bigger focus on the entire distribution chain. So now it's going into competition with all those places that have committed to hefty levels of sales. Yup, that's really going to endear them. Duing bad economic times, go tell your customers that you want to take more money from them.
  • What exactly is Microsoft going to show at the stores. Let's see, there's the Xbox, some keyboards and mice, the Zune, and -- uh -- oh, yeah. Lots and lots of boxes of software. Yes, friends, Microsoft is looking to open a chain of box stores. Imagine the consumer appeal of all that cardboard arrayed on stainless steel shelving under harsh lighting. This is not the variety of products with visual impact that could hope to drive the sales levels that Apple sees.
  • What are the salespeople going to do? This means Microsoft has to find enough people who can demo products without them either crashing or doing things like showing the Xbox Red Ring of Death. "Oh, sorry, ma'am, this doesn't seem to be working so let me put you on our hotline to someone in India." But will you have to agree to a EULA before crossing the store's threshold?
Just the fact that the concept leads itself to immediate and easy mockery should be enough to get someone to think twice.

Image via stock.xchng user aperfect1, site standard license.

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