Microsoft to Open Retail Stores Near Apple Stores
Microsoft plans to open new Microsoft retail stores near rival Apple stores this fall, according to a key company executive.
During a keynote speech at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2009 in New Orleans on July 15, Kevin Turner, Microsoft's chief operating officer told the company's partners that Microsoft will take advantage of customer demand for Microsoft products at the retail level. Proximity to Apple's retail outlets only serves to fuel the competition between two of the most recognized brands in the technology industry.
According to the "All About Microsoft" blog post, Mary Jo Foley quotes a Microsoft spokesperson as saying:
"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 no stranger to retail, having held several executive positions at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., where he started as a cashier while in college, then became executive vice president and chief information officer of Wal-Mart, and finally, president CEO of Sam's Club. Retail is in his blood. Not to mention that in February Microsoft hired David Porter, a former DreamWorks Animation and Wal-Mart exec, as Corporate Vice President of Retail Stores earlier this year.
In a statement issued when the company initially announced its plans to hire Porter and open retail sites, 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."
And at the WPC 2009 event, Turner spoke directly of the competition with Apple, 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."
Meanwhile, Turner also spoke of hearing from Apple's lawyers regarding Microsoft's series of "Laptop Hunters" ads. Turner said he had begun to grow tired of hearing from so many people: "What are you going to do about those Apple ads?" So he told folks to stay tuned. And shortly thereafter, Microsoft "punched right back" with its own ads, which put Apple on its heels, he said.
Turner said the PC Hunters ads are "completely unscripted" and they are working.
"And you know why I know they're working? Because two weeks ago we got a call from the Apple legal department saying, hey -- this is a true story -- 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."