It’s often said that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and if that’s true then Microsoft has been flattering Apple for years by trying to copy its stores. Unfortunately for Microsoft, nobody cares about their retail stores.
Ina Fried reports on Microsoft’s retail failure for Recode:
It’s hard to know exactly how the stores are doing since Microsoft won’t comment on either sales or traffic figures. It is fair to say, though, that it is not uncommon to visit stores in which workers outnumber customers.
In San Francisco, even the tiny Amazon kiosk a floor below often has more customers than the far larger Microsoft store.
I’m not a fan of Microsoft, and haven’t been for many years. I can’t remember the last time I ran Windows or any other Microsoft software for that matter. But it’s rather sad to see Microsoft reduced to being beaten in terms of retail store traffic by an Amazon kiosk in San Francisco.
Sheesh. What an absolute embarrassment for Microsoft.
Microsoft is not a loved company like Apple
I think it’s well past time for Microsoft to admit defeat and close down its failed attempt to copy Apple’s retail stores. It simply hasn’t worked for Microsoft because very few people want to buy products with the Microsoft logo on them.
It’s a rather ugly truth for Microsoft to face, but the company has never been loved by its customers the way that Apple is and it never will be. Over the years Microsoft has generated a lot of bad blood and ill will with its cutthroat business tactics, and that has left it with a corrupted brand that reeks of greed and incompetence.
When people think of Microsoft, they don't think of magical technology products. They think of Windows viruses, bloated and expensive office suites, and the long history of Microsoft using its Windows monopoly to screw over its competitors and limit customer choice.
I don’t know anybody who has ever gone into a Microsoft retail store, never mind actually buying something from one. I have had a few people tell me that they walked by one on their way to the Apple store, and noted how few people were in the Microsoft store.
Microsoft's retail stores are really the leper colonies of your local mall. People see that big Microsoft logo and they walk past in great haste, wanting to avoid any contact with Microsoft or its products. Nobody wants to be tainted by being seen inside of a Microsoft retail store.
Microsoft still has no taste
In an interview back in 1995, Steve Jobs pointed out that Microsoft has no taste:
Jobs is gone now, but he has been proven right over the years about Microsoft’s utter lack of taste. And the company is as clueless now about that as it was then. Nothing has changed at Microsoft between 1995 and 2016 in terms of how Microsoft conceives, designs and executes on its products.
Nothing Microsoft produces has any sense of style or design.
And you can see how a lack of taste and culture has hurt Microsoft in the retail space. There’s nothing in Microsoft’s stores that can draw in large crowds of people, or get them excited about Microsoft’s brand or its products. Even the company's logo looks like a bad design hack job.
When Jobs said that Microsoft's products were "pedestrian" he hit the nail right on the head. And you see the consequences of that in the lack of foot traffic in Microsoft's retail stores compared to the number of people that regularly flood into Apple's retail stores.
Microsoft will pull the plug on its retail stores…eventually
I think that Microsoft is still clinging to the idea that they can follow in Apple’s retail footsteps. But it’s clear to anybody outside of Microsoft that that simply isn’t going to happen. And in that sense, Microsoft is stuck in a rut of corporate denial.
My guess is that eventually Microsoft will come to realize what an utter failure their retail stores are and will close them down. It may take a few more years for this to happen, but sooner or later the company will see the handwriting on the wall.
And when the last Microsoft retail store is closed…nobody will notice or care.
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