"Microsoft plans to open its own retail stores to 'transform the PC and Microsoft buying experience,' the company said [in February] as it hired an executive to run the retail operation.... Microsoft has long been perceived as lagging behind rival Apple in appealing directly to consumers, and Apple has a head start of several years in running a chain of stores." -IDG News Service Not to be outdone by Apple and Microsoft, perhaps SAP executives will quickly build several U.S. retail stores to increase the general public's awareness of one of the world's largest software companies. And sell some SAP products too! Here's how we imagine the SAP Store "experience" might go: "Guten Tag. Bon jour. Hola. Ni Hao. Ciao. Hello," says Hans, the official "greeter" of the brand-new SAP Store located at the Paramus Park mall in Paramus, N.J. He's dressed like Dieter from "Sprockets." And he apparently speaks multiple languages. "Just like SAP software does," he cheerfully tells a husband and wife who have just wandered into the store. "Why is the company named sap?" asks the beleaguered middle-aged woman. "It's not pronounced 'sap,'" replies Hans, rather curtly. "It's pronounced S - A - P." Undaunted, he presses on. "It's German. The original name was 'SAP Systems, Applications and Products in Data Processing.' Or in German, it's 'SAP Aktiengesellschaft Systeme, Anwendungen, Produkte in der Datenverarbeitung.' Say it with me....." "SAP Aktiengesell...," responds the woman. "Do you have a bathroom I could use?" "Of course," Hans says. "It's right over there by the posters of our five founders, which are for sale." The woman looks puzzled, looking left and right. "You know," says a nearly exasperated Hans. "Dietmar Hopp, Hans-Werner Hector, Hasso Plattner, Klaus Tschira, and Claus Wellenreuther." Silence. "It's by the Exit sign," Hans finally says. The woman scuttles away, and her husband glances around the austere concrete-and-glass store, which offers two unoccupied HP PCs (with labels that read "For Power Users Only") and display case after display case filled with shimmering CDs, with names such as: Business Suite, NetWeaver, BusinessObjects Edge, Business ByDesign, Crystal Reports, Service-Oriented Architecture and lots more. The husband finally asks Hans: "So, what do you actually sell here?" "Software," says Hans, rather proudly. "We are the world's leading provider of business software, offering applications and services that enable companies of all sizes and in more than 25 industries to become best-run businesses. We have more than 82,000 customers in more than 120 countries." "So, like word processing or Excel spreadsheets\u2014that kinda software?" "No. Not like word processing or Excel." Hans was visibly agitated by the inane line of questioning, but since he hadn't had a customer in days, he plays nice. "These are the leading, robust, highly scalable, highly flexible business applications that run the back-office systems of the world's largest companies\u2014such as Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola." Hans stared at the man. "That kind of software." "Oh. I see," said the man, who looked down at his watch. "I try to avoid that scale. But I guess I could use help with managing my finances." "For you, sir, we have a fully integrated suite of ERP, CRM, BI and supply chain applications," says Hans. "How much do you know about Business Suite 7?" "ER-what?" "ERP," says Hans. "Enterprise resource planning. It's quite essential." "I see," says the man, thinking a second. "So the price tags on the disks are all in Euros. So, how much is this 'fully integrated ERP' suite, in U.S. dollars?" "Average total cost for, say, an ERP implementation is approximately $16 million. Total time of implementation is roughly 20 months," says Hans. "Want to hear more?" "No!" "Of course," continues Hans, "you'll have to pay us an annual maintenance fee, which is around 22 percent of the net license price, and spend millions more on upgrades when we release new versions. Though we're fixing that. And that's all assuming everything goes well with the install. So how many seats are we talking about here?" "Seats? I don't need any seats. And if I did, Crate and Barrel is right across the way." The wife returns, to the delight of the husband. "Honey, let's go," he says quickly. "Come back and see us again," says Hans. "Auf wiedesein. Au revoir. Adios. Zai jian. Ciao. Goodbye!"