Ross Rubin, contributing at Engadget, makes a compelling case for Microsoft opening up its own retail stores, in order to see the kind of success companies like Apple and Nintendo have enjoyed, either with multiple retail locations driving sales, or a flagship store increasing visibility. Ross says Microsoft now has a wide lineup of sophisticated products, almost none of which can be properly demoed at any retail location.
The fact is, even the best electronics stores typically fail at presenting Windows PCs, with crappy demo units with broken keyboards and laptops that are so locked down that you can’t explore those functions. No one is buying a Tablet PC without trying one out, yet I have yet to visit a CompUSA, Circuit City, Staples or any other store that had a Tablet that worked, was on, folded properly (many had the security piece preventing it from going to Tablet mode, brilliant) and had a stylus on hand.
Lots of Microsoft products need good demos, including Media Center and Zune, and will never get decent treatment at your local Best Buy. Microsoft could really use a store, even one that didn’t sell must of anything, as long as it showed people why Microsoft technologies are great. It’s clear lately that Microsoft’s success in development doesn’t equal a similar amount of success in sales. The whole company is underachieving in stores compared to how much it is achieving in the office. The disconnect results from the message not reaching the public, as Microsoft’s marketing is many times among the worst of any large company. Get the message to the people, or the people will keep going to Apple.