One of tech’s biggest rivalries is spilling into one of New York City’s most exclusive neighborhoods.
Weeks after a local newspaper first reported that Microsoft was eyeing a ritzy Manhattan address, the company announced Sept. 29 that it was indeed opening up a new flagship store on Fifth Avenue, home to a string of high-end retailers. “Today, I am pleased to confirm we have signed a lease to open a flagship store at 677 Fifth Avenue in New York City,” David Porter, corporate vice president of Worldwide Retail Stores at Microsoft, said in a statement.
“As our first flagship store, it will serve as the centerpiece of our Microsoft Stores experience,” Porter said.
Last month, Microsoft was much more secretive about its plans. “We are always working to identify the best possible locations for our Microsoft retail stores to deliver the choice value and service our customers are looking for, but do not have any additional information to share at this time,” a company spokesperson told eWEEK.
677 Fifth Ave., located between 53rd and 54th streets, formerly served as a storefront for Fendi, a luxury fashion brand. Notably, the address is a short walk from Apple’s own flagship store to the north.
Crowned by a distinctive glass cube, Apple’s underground store on Fifth Avenue is situated between 58th and 59th streets. In addition to drumming up brisk business, the store, which is open 24 hours, has grown into a tourist destination and often attracts big crowds during high-profile product releases. Lines routinely snake around the block when in-demand gadgets like the iPhone 6 go on sale, drawing TV crews and onlookers.
By setting up shop on “one of the most visited streets in America,” Microsoft aims to make new connections with consumers.
“Our Fifth Avenue location will be much more than just a Microsoft Store,” said Porter. “In addition to retail, there will be experiential space for Microsoft as a company to further engage with our customers and partners in new and innovative ways.”
Like true neighbors, Porter’s comments suggest that Microsoft may be borrowing some tools from Apple, namely some of its retail experiences.
Not only do Microsoft Stores serve as showcases for the company’s products, including the Surface Pro 3, Windows Phones and Xbox One, they feature Answer Desk experts, the company’s answer to Apple Genius Bar staffers. Community Theaters, akin to Apple’s classroom-like workshops in select locations, are venues for classes and other community events.
“As our first flagship store, it will serve as the centerpiece of our Microsoft Stores experience,” stated Porter. The store has been “five years in the making,” he revealed, indicating that the company has been mulling the move since at least 2009.
The first Microsoft Store opened its doors on Oct. 22, 2009, in Scottsdale, Ariz. Currently, the company has 104 physical retail locations in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.