BBC BLOGS - dot.Rory
« Previous | Main | Next »

Microsoft and Apple: Competing on the high street

Rory Cellan-Jones | 08:51 UK time, Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Seattle: I've just visited two shiny temples to technology, brightly lit places with keen, well-informed and helpful staff, and a welcome for anyone who wanted just to play on the laptops, mobile phones or tablet computers.

Yes, one was an Apple store, but the other, just a few doors along in a shopping mall in Bellevue near Seattle, was a Microsoft store. The software giant has now opened seven of these shops in the United States, an attempt perhaps to copy Apple's very successful experiment in selling its products direct to the public in an environment designed to reinforce the brand.

Apple store
Microsoft store

The one I visited, just a few miles from Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, seemed to have much of the recipe about right - good design, plenty of room to look at the products, and without the overcrowded shelves and apathetic salespeople you get in many big electronic retail chains.

But it did seem to be proving less of a draw to shoppers than its neighbouring Apple Store. That might be just because it has only recently opened, or it could say something about the different ways the two companies are organised to address their markets.

Inside Microsoft store

Apple is one of the most vertically integrated businesses you can imagine. It designs and owns all of its own products, both software and hardware, and while it does not manufacture, it exercises tight control over the suppliers in China who produce the iPads, iPhones and iMacs. And, while you can buy Apple products from outside retailers, the firm has made huge efforts to sell direct to consumers, either online or through its fast-growing chain of stores.

By contrast, Microsoft, despite its image as the overwhelming force in the software industry, has always been reliant on relationships with other firms - the computer makers who have installed its software on their machines, the phone manufacturers who've adopted its mobile operating system, and the retailers who have sold Windows 7 or Xbox consoles to consumers. And even in its new stores, Microsoft products have to jostle with other brands - from Samsung to Acer to Lenovo - creating a much less uniform experience than at the Apple stores.

These different approaches - the vertical or the horizontal - had come up in discussion with Microsoft's research and strategy guru Craig Mundie a few hours earlier. He pointed out that in the 1980s and 1990s, it was Microsoft's strategy that had proved the winner. Because Windows was released to the PC makers to install on any machine it ended up grabbing most of the market, while Apple's refusal to licence its operating system gave it complete control, but of a very small niche.

In the smartphone market, however, Apple's strategy has worked out until now - total control over the software and the handset has produced a phone for which consumers were willing to pay a premium. But Google's very different approach, allowing anyone to install Android on any kind of phone, is now taking the market by storm. Craig Mundie reckons that Microsoft's partnership with Nokia is a third way, giving the two firms a measure of control over both hardware and software.

Microsoft probably won't worry if crowds do not flock to its new stores - they are just a small exercise in making the brand look a bit cooler, rather than a key plank in the strategy. For Apple, though, the rise of its retail chain has mirrored the extraordinary surge in its profits over recent years, so if the crowds in the stores begin to melt away, that really will be cause for concern.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    The apple stores are successful as they showcase apple's shiny new gadgets, along with their accessories, that people find cool, and desirable.

    While this might not be the case with the microsoft store, i suspect that people who go into the store are more likly to be wanting to buy something, rather than the throngs of people just playing with the shiny toys in the apple store!

  • Comment number 2.

    It is a curious accident that Apple's in-store experience whilst much-lauded (and much-aped - witness Mary Portas' recent TV series) isn't actually that great. The reality is that the stores are often absolutely rammed with teenagers who have neither the money nor intention to purchase products. The products are undeniably brilliantly presented, the store layouts are considered and reflective of the brand but even as an Apple fan I can't stand going inside. I'll squeeze past hordes of people checking Facebook and taking webcam pictures of their friends when I want to spend 10 minutes checking out the AppleTV interface in relaxed comfort or trying out some new headphones with an iPod. And if I want to actually buy I have to wait for ages whilst the nice chap with the handheld reader finishes processing the lengthy contract sign-up for another customer's new iPhone. The Apple store experience is a victim of its own success and I'm actually hopeful that the MS store captures fewer crowds and - as we say in the marketing industry - more genuine 'prospects'.

  • Comment number 3.

    Did Microsoft just admit that in the 80s and 90s they supplier windows and internet explorer to hardware companies to pre install and therefore act against the interests of competition?


    Well I never!

  • Comment number 4.

    Microsoft trying to copy Apple again, badly. Look at the wannabe iMacs and Macbooks. Apple has always been the innovator. A bit like the VHS and Beta tape competition, except the better marque here has survived and prospers. Apple is liking buying a Mercedes to Microsoft's Ford Cortina with spoilers on.

  • Comment number 5.

    Microsoft compete? I don't think so. Their software is a Ram Hog; a Gigabit Glutton - whatever. And it's not so stable - although that bit is getting better.

  • Comment number 6.

    I think MS should open up stores in the E.U, Asia and Africa (where Apple stores are)and showcase the latest range of products from phones to PC's and laptops. If they allowed customers to pre-order the latest tech (before it hits the mainstream) then that would be a bonus. Not long know before Google opens up her own store. And Wozza don't be a player hating fanboy

  • Comment number 7.

    Oh dear, the Apple or die brigade have got in early. :)
    @3: Supplying Windows to hardware companies does not act against competition. Those suppliers were free to choose another operating system to install.
    @4: Apple has not always been the innovator, there are a good many innovations from all companies associated with computers - Microsoft just as much as Apple. I agree with sagat4 here.
    @5: It's not usually Windows that hogs the RAM, but the third party applications.
    If you don't know what you're talking about - don't post.

  • Comment number 8.

    'Wozza' demonstrates the fundamental flaw in the Apple v Microsoft war - people still buy into "Mac Vs PC" even the comment:

    "Look at the wannabe iMacs and Macbooks." is entirely inaccurate. MICROSOFT does NOT build PCs it never has and it likely never will. If you have issue with any iMac or Macbook 'wannabes' as you call them then go take that issue with the companies that ACTUALLY manufactured those devices. Moreover you will probably find the companies that built them are the same companies that supplied the exact same components to Apple to build their versions.

    A 'Microsoft Store' is doomed to fall into the same debate of Mac VS PC - just as that war is a misnomer so is this new Apple Store v MS Store - you can't seriously compare the two unless you really haven't got a clue what you are talking about. The MS Store will be filled with products that weren't built by MS at all, the only commonality will be that they all share Windows or some derivative as an Operating System.

    Adn I agree with phil_clarke I think the MS store will have the potential to makea lot more money as the people who will visit will have a far greater intention and capacity to actually buy the products.

  • Comment number 9.

    Ah, the Apple Store. On the one hand, a shiny, stunning temple showcasing products which are undeniably desirable.

    On the other hand, an overcrowded, noisy place where you can't try out a product properly because it's too budy, where products that aren't made by Apple are ludicrously overpriced, where there's no chance of a sale or discount ... and where you have to make an appointment - yes, really - to swap a faulty item*.

    Also, they're starting to pop up all over the place now. I live in Reading and one opens here in the summer. Once they're in every major town and city, will they be less of a draw?

    * This was my experience when returning a faulty iPhone a couple of years back; they told me to make an appointment online at the 'Genius Bar' for a few days' time.

  • Comment number 10.

    All computer stores sell only the latest versions of anything. As soon as the product is purchased and like a second-hand car dealer the forecourt guarantee has expired, they will want to charge you for everything and the stock answer quite often is that you really should purchase the latest version.

    However in the real World or real mac users (not just the new product buyers) or real Windows PC users experience the less than welcome trials and tribulations of real life. Basically everyone is on his/her own in either World.

    I am very tempted to say "best switch to Linux" where the OS is kept up to date, efficient and maintained by the users - rather than every so often a new OS needs to be purchased. Of course if purchasers never become at all competent at using their shiny new computers then buy an Apple every year or if you are slightly more competent buy a PC/Windows machine. But shouldn't a computer do useful things for you rather than just being a disposable result of a less than satisfactory shopping experience?

    These stores are retail experiences and are aimed at the mass of people who don't actually have any real utility reason to have a computer but think it will add to their self-image. Now I don't say that is wrong as a retail strategy - but I do say that these stores are the very last place where the realities of computing actually matters one jot. That is, do you want a cup of coffee or the Starbucks experience? There is a place for both, but to evaluate these stores as being anything much to do with computing is a mistake and fails to understand why customers use them. Retail customers need to understand what they will get from a Mac or Win store - higher than possible best prices and very expensive third party products - you are paying for the store's fittings and rent.

  • Comment number 11.

    I didn't think it would take long to stir things up here. Tee Hee.

    sagat4 Perhaps learn how to spell 'now' and 'their'. "player hating fanboy" Eh?

    Amadeus2k8 i didn't say Microsoft make the hardware. The machines are in a shop with 'Microsoft' over the door though. Perhaps put a pause in after "badly"

    John Mc Pehaps Would you prefer to queue up with everybody else who has a problem. Where else do you get free advice and a solution when out of warranty? MS? I think maybe not. I've been twice when in a right fix and they have come up trumps both times, even when I was late for an appointment. Yes, really!

  • Comment number 12.

    I love the Apple Stores, my favourite activity there is loading up the Adobe Flash installation page on all the iPads and phones.

  • Comment number 13.

    Apple stores exist because apple have to sell straight to people and have to show how 'great' all their stuff looks to get people to buy it. This isn't a big Apple bash but a lot of people just don't understand that unless you want a high end machine pc's and by proxy Microsoft software, and macs compete on nearly every level. I would suspect even on some of the very high end stuff you can find competing machines that run everything at the same speed. It's time people woke up. Computers are computers choose the one that is best for your needs not the one that looks the prettiest but may cost 3 times the amount. Maybe the Microsoft store will open up the world for a lot of people.

  • Comment number 14.

    Ha ha, Barney L, Love it. I love apple but totally agree with the comment about the teenagers. But who knows, maybe by playing with the products apple offers, apple have actually been really clever by guaranteeing the next generation of people that will buy their products. Get them young, and keep them hooked on the brand for the rest of their lives?

    You've got to admit though, the microsoft store does look like the apple store with a different logo on, certainly from the photos. Honestly it wouldn't take much of a refit to change it into an apple store!!

  • Comment number 15.

    Apple stores are full of good products and horrible people. Personally I buy from resellers. The Microsoft stores are obviously just PR exercises but needs must I suppose.

  • Comment number 16.

    I hope the Microsoft stores offer the same opporunities for older people and technophobes to learn about computing.

    There are a lot of teenagers in Apple Stores but there is also a high take up of the Genius bar and demo hardware by people learning how to use applications and Macs - Something you would do well to get in a PC World etc.

    It's a good marketing ploy from Apple, it doesn't mean the hardware is any better, but it fits well into 'Big Society!'. If you know someone who is unsure of how to use a Mac or PC, take them into one of these store and let them play for half an hour. It's free and they can't hurt anyone.

    PS @7, it was a question. If you have any evidence please send it to the EU Competition Commission :)

  • Comment number 17.

    Microsoft store is a strange concept indeed. Especially since they only make the OS, while the rest is actually from the branded manufacturers of hardrware.

    Oh and Apple as hardware inventor and leader? Hmm. last time i checked in the Mac area they used Foxconn components, Nvidia graphics and Intel procesors. I doubt they invented or invested into any of that. They used to make/create their own chips i believe. Even for other platforms the ARM is "inventing" the chips for them. To me these days it all looks more or less like an overly expencive closed source preinstalled *nix/BSD operating system with better support from software & hardware manufacturers. though the Air notebooks seem interesting (again they are overpriced).

    I am not sure why I would go to a Microsoft shop. What i could get there that i can't get in any other shop that is selling windows based computers? and that's the majority of shops.

  • Comment number 18.

    "Supplying Windows to hardware companies does not act against competition. Those suppliers were free to choose another operating system to install."

    Except Microsoft shut down any competition with their (often anti-competitive) practises, DRDOS, OS2/Warp and so on. Even a Linux competitor called Lindows was virtually killed off when Microsoft forced them through court action to rename themselves, even though windows is a dictionary word!

    Also, Microsoft had a scheme in place that encouraged OEMs to report to them any customers who asked for a computer without an operating system as they were likely to be pirates. Even though Windows can be bought in a retail box or the customer may want to install Linux, Solaris or other operating systems.

  • Comment number 19.

    Almost everything in an Apple store designed by Apple and furnished with Apple firmware, Apple operating systems, and often a lot of Apple content and application software.

    This approach allows Apple to create entire products which, largely speaking, feel as if they have been designed.

    The Microsoft approach is very different. OEMs make hardware and then buy and install Windows. This is a great model for Microsoft but a bad one for OEMs.

    While Microsoft makes a profit on every PC. The OEMs struggle to make a few dollars on every PC. They pre-load the computers with ad-ware, just to gain a few extra pennies on each sale. They are unable to add features without Microsoft's approval - or even worse attempt software features which feel bolted on and unreliable. This results in disappointing products that don't feel designed at all.

    They feel like assembled components.

    Because all PCs do the same thing, consumers treat them as commodities, and will buy whichever brand is the cheapest. So begins a race to the bottom, with cheaper and cheaper hardware, and thinner and thinner margins.

    Microsoft has had a great run. And I am sure will continue to dominate these low-price machines. But all of the OEMs are jumping ship non-Microsoft software (Android and WebOS) to regain some control.

    C.

  • Comment number 20.

    It gives a whole new meaning to window shopping!

  • Comment number 21.

    I think some people forget that whilst Apple computers are in fancy and fashionable shells, they contain different software to PCs and as such you are comparing two different products.

    Also you don't just upgrade a machine because it looks "dated". Surely anyone with a basic knowledge of computing knows that new software requires more processing power and storage than before.

    Anyway Apple stores are the last place you want to go to to buy Apple products. The majority of people in the stores are there just to browse with no intention (or money) to buy the products or try before you buy, and do get in the way of people intending to purchase goods.

  • Comment number 22.

    I've always found Apple's staff pretentious and snobby, when my iPhone failed I walked in to see what my options were for getting it fixed, and despite it being the middle of the day on a Tuesday and the store having more staff in it than customers I was told I had to make an appointment and come back later.

    Let's hope Microsoft have the sense to at least give people a warm welcome and try and help them out rather than act like unhelpful pretentious work shy snobs trying to find an excuse not to serve you- that's certainly how it felt when this happened.

    Still, that was over a year ago now and I've now got an Android phone, really pleased with it, far more flexible than my iPhone was, many of the gadgets on the home screens are excellent and far better than Apple's rather unimaginative frontend, the variety of apps is much more impressive because you are't limited by Apple's artificial limitations on who can publish what to their app store meaning Android apps can do things that Apple apps just can't because Apple wont let them. There's also a much better selection of free apps (Angry Birds is free on Android for example), and being able to replace things like the keyboard with apps like SlideIT is impressive. I guess in a way the Apple store staff did me a favour, it's just a shame that due to Apple's excessive DRM it was hard to move across some of my content, but oh well I got there in the end despite such mechanisms designed to lock you in to their products. Ultimately it was sure as hell worth it, and that's the main thing.

  • Comment number 23.

    I like the Apple store where I am, granted it could be bigger as it's always busy, mainly with people playing with stuff they're not going to buy (but I call that browsing).

    I've bought items and taken equipment in for repair and have always found the staff friendly and helpful.

    It'd be good if Microsoft opened stores in the UK also, would set some competition against the other large retailers, like PC World.

  • Comment number 24.

    @Giles Jones -
    'Even a Linux competitor called Lindows was virtually killed off when Microsoft forced them through court action to rename themselves, even though windows is a dictionary word!'

    Apple is a dictionary words too... It's called defending a trademark, look it up.

  • Comment number 25.

    #20. duncan_munro wrote:

    "It gives a whole new meaning to window shopping!"

    Q. Are either of these stores better or worse than the other kind of window store - double glazing salesmen?

  • Comment number 26.

    @optimaximal

    Apple is a dictionary words too... It's called defending a trademark, look it up.

    And look at the battle between Apple Corps and Apple Inc. even though Apple Inc.'s founders admitted they stole the name from Apple Corps.

  • Comment number 27.

    Should try to read or view the confessions-of-an-apple-store-employee on popularmechanics.com

    It's retail after all. Still wondering why as we can do it from the comfy of the house using a PC or MAC.

  • Comment number 28.

    Teenagers are customers too – even if it's their parents' money they're spending. My student son and most of his friends have Apple products – from powerbooks to iPhones and iPads. Apple is far too savvy to allow teenagers to loiter in stores, trying out products, just for the sake of it - there must be a strong business case for encouraging them to do so. I am not usually drawn to shops full of gadgets, but I was impressed with the Apple store in Covent Garden. No, I didn’t buy anything, but my partner ordered an Apple Airbook after our visit on the strength of seeing it and testing it out. I just can't see a Microsoft shop having quite the same pull.

  • Comment number 29.

    Rather than flush money down the retail HW toilet they would be better advised to:
    + produce SW that works seamlessly out of the box
    + produce SW that works as if it was desinged as a complete package rather than by different teams
    + produce a phone system that works on upgrade - if you cannot get an upgrade in place what hope?
    + deliver an online app store
    + create fast slim SW rather than extended and slow "bloatware"

    In summary the concept is doomed since MS just fails to get it! No longer cool it is looking flabby and tired.

  • Comment number 30.

    Apple is all well and good but there are just as many flaws as with Microsoft products! For example, you can only sync your beloved iPod to one computer, meaning if you get a new computer, it's bye bye songs if you want to put on new ones!

    Every company will try and find a little niche in the market to make a little bit more money. And so what if it isn't just Microsoft products? Personally, I've never been inside an Apple store (I would assume the nearest one would be in Manchester/Liverpool?) because I don't use Apple products; my father told me of a workmate who had his iPhone in his back pocket. It fell out and broke in an instant. Friends have told me about iPods breaking when being accidently dropped onto a hard surface. I have an MP4 which is already two or so years old. I've dropped it many a time, being a clumsy teen, and it works as well as it did when I got it two Christmas' ago.

    Perhaps opening up a Microsoft shop is good, perhaps bad. I don't really have to go to these giant stores with their fancy neon signs because my dad is an IT technician and usually, he'll know what the jargon means on the specs and such, but, either way, Microsoft and opening up to new customers and they might just have people who actually know what they're on about in their stores, which is helpful to the people of society who probably wouldn't know their way around a computer most of the time.

  • Comment number 31.

    Just Microsoft playing catch-up again!

  • Comment number 32.

    Well, with the new update bricking some phones, its a good job MS has a high street store that users can return them to :)

  • Comment number 33.

    Ah, I do love the way that criticising Apple brings out the corporate wannabe-slave in some people. Honestly, it’s like the ATi/ Nvidia flame wars all over again…

    For me the bottom line is that MS provides an easy to use, stable (Win7 just works) operating system with a vast choice of software and (mostly third party) hardware, at very reasonable prices. Linux could be even better, if I had the time and patience to get used to it.

    Over the years Apple has really stuck it to people on the hardware side. You only have to look at the lack of compatible, up to date drivers for graphics cards over the last few years for an example. A phone that will not let you change the battery. A mouse with fewer buttons than a baby’s cardigan. I ask you.

    I don’t see what MS are trying to do opening these stores, to be honest. They should concentrate on improving their software and supporting third party hardware manufacturers. They could also do a lot worse than binning GfWL and going into partnership with Valve/ Steam.

    I’m not interested in image- I want things that work and are cheap.

  • Comment number 34.

    personally i believe as a user/customer of both MS and Apple, that the shops while good to try something firsthand it is best to purchase online as it usually takes less time, and for the record i find that in terms of software i find Apple to have better software, in terms of graphical design and video making and the like, i find windows software better for gaming and document making but lacking in fluidity compared to the Mac system.

  • Comment number 35.

    Apple opened Retail Stores for Brand visibility and promotion in a time when they had very low level of public exposure as a brand. They had previously been a kind of 'underground' movement. They got some Macs into PC world but rarely any staff who understood or recommended them or could really talk about the differences. (They now sublet inside PC World and use Apple employees).
    As it happened the Stores have done well and more appear. They are not the place I would tend to buy from and could do a lot more to showcase compatible kit as well as to hold products that are not all top priced - but on the plus side I have met helpful friendly staff who are WORLDS apart from the so called 'salesmen' I have met in
    Currys, PCWorld and Comet.

    Microsoft are in a difficult evolutionary position technologically - in my opinion - but as well as this they are seeking to address the perception that they are uncool - not really in touch or in tune with people or the times. Their store is a copycat and seems to say "We can do cool !". But that is not how it is.

    There are lots of factors to considerations regarding the different 'players' and their strategies and its easy to get lost in partial and opinionated perspectives.

    The 'freedom to do what you want' or 'being locked in a proprietary system' has both pro's and cons.
    MS have just released an update that has bricked a number of Samsung phones. How likely is this or other problems if more and more different kinds of hardware are needing to be catered for?

    All solutions involve some degree of compromise - and all of these firms are interdependent as well as in competition in different areas - and the nature of these relationships is shifting all the time.

  • Comment number 36.

    I know this is a bit harsh and not many people know about the few Microsoft stores out there, but the seven you talk of have been around for a few years. Rory, you seem to be in a bit of a time warp at the moment.

  • Comment number 37.

    When the first Apple Store opened in the UK - in Regents Street - I found it very difficult to leave without buying something - a whole new world had opened up with helpful staff and efficient and effective products. Reflecting on this experience aferwards, I came to the conclusion that Apple had combined the 9 Ps of marketing in an optimum way - product, purpose, potential, price, performance, place, promotion, people, profit. Actually, I added a tenth - planet - after listening to one of the young assistants tell me about the sustainable product development processes in Apple.

    I have visited the smaller Apple Store in Bluewater a few times since, and have not felt the same urge to buy. It seems that several of the Ps have been sacrificed.

    It will be interesting to see if Microsoft can do better and make it last.

  • Comment number 38.

    I have been a fan of the Apple OS since the early 90's. I have no problem with Microsoft as such, in fact they produce brilliant software for the Mac. The store idea model works for Apple because it is hands on and you haven't got pushy sales people trying to get you to buy the products as soon as you walk through the door. Maybe Microsoft will have the good sense to adopt the same approach.
    Microsoft in allowing other manufacturers to provide the hardware is a problem. A few years ago I purchased a Windows laptop, I was forced (against my wishes) to have the latest and newest Windows OS. The very next day I had to take it back to have additional memory added and it was still slow and clunky. Realistically budget Windows OS machines are not up to the job.
    I would love to be able to purchase a machine then decide which OS I want to purchase and install - now that would be much fairer to the consumer.

  • Comment number 39.

    @ Laurence - At the risk of fighting old battles, PC hardware retailers were not as free to choose their OS as you suggest. In many reported cases hardware makers were told that they'd have to pay licensing fees on every PC they shipped - even if it did not include windows. If they didn't agree, no windows period.

  • Comment number 40.

    @Tams: The mentioned Bellevue Microsoft store opened in Nov, 2010. October 22, 2009 was the first, the second a week later, 2 more in June last year and another 2 in November.

    I prefer getting an appointment as I can only imagine how long the queues would be if repairs were on a first-come-first-served basis.

  • Comment number 41.

    Apple and Microsoft are two very different companies, that sell two very different products. Apple are primarily a hardware manufacturer, Microsoft is pure software. Therefore, I feel that Microsoft do not have the same need to run a chain of stores, that is a job for the likes of Acer, Sony and Dell. However, this is not so much about actually selling as regaining some brand recognition, as opposed to Windows appearing to be so run of the mill that we just ignore it.

    In terms of Apple vs. MS, can everyone just accept that as long as they are both competing, prices are lower. Imagine the cost of a Mac if Apple had Microsoft's market share. Yes, Apple computers are expensive, but face it, the battery life/computing power ratio of a MacBook Pro is impressive. I believe Apple buy higher binned processors and downclock them to achieve this, so whereas Intel would sell the processor as a Core i3 @ 2.6GHz, Apple sell it at 2GHz. Obviously the numbers aren't exact, but in doing this, you are actually getting a more expensive processor and using this in a different way.

    I personally am a Windows user (for gaming) and view most Apple products as too expensive, but I am glad they exist. By providing a very closed environment, there is motivation for competitors to offer alternatives (iOS vs. Android) and this is good for consumers. Maybe the Microsoft store would benefit by running some high end PCs that cost Mac prices and showing some of the things that they can do - Crysis (or perhaps one of the newer DirectX11 games) running at 2560x1600 on max settings would really make people stop and look

  • Comment number 42.

    I just love reading these.... last time I came across this was in the playground... "My Dad's bigger than your Dad"

  • Comment number 43.

    Most of the people I know go to Apple stores to use as a free internet cafe... without the coffee, obviously.

  • Comment number 44.

    Good news!

    Apple are going to open a store in BBC television centre next week.

    Rory won't even have to leave the office :)

  • Comment number 45.

    I was there last week. I totally missed the point of the huge Microsoft store. There were only about 10 people in store looking at a few windows phones, some sony PCs and shrink-wrapped office software. Very dull...

  • Comment number 46.

    @Shiny

    Your dad's an IT technician, and he lets you believe that, if you have an iPod, you can't move songs from one computer to another! I think you should have a word!

  • Comment number 47.

    I've always loved computer stores. Ever since I went into a CompUSA in the early 90s. And I loved the early PC World stores in this country. It was always a thrill to be able to see and touch all this wonderful technology, and to buy some of it and take it home. There's no doubt the Apple stores are currently the best experience, but I would love for Microsoft to open more stores so that we could see a wider range of technology displayed in an attractive way.

    Apple's policy of allowing people, however young and apparently impecunious, to spend as much time as they like browsing and playing but not necessarily buying is of course part of their success. Enough people do eventually buy, possibly online when they get home, to make the stores a success. But at busy times the stores are too crowded to be much fun. So I guess I'll be ordering my iPad 2 online :-)

  • Comment number 48.

    Wait... is this the same microsoft that laughed at the iPhone? You know... the iPhone that is now ubiquitous and making Apple huge profits?
    Or is this the same Microsoft that said he was going to "kill Google". You know... Google who's still growing and making millions?
    Or maybe it's the same Microsoft that thinks that DRM really is the future.Could be the same Microsoft that has a CEO Steve "Monkeyboy" Ballmer who has the famous youtube video of him jumping all over the stage and screaming "DEVELOPERS!" like an Orangutan for 5 minutes.
    Dunno... I'm not sure why anyone would take anything he had to say seriously. I mean... really...You're... kidding? Right?
    Laugh... I thought I'd DIE. LOL.


  • Comment number 49.

    "Microsoft's partnership with Nokia"
    Nokia = BAD
    Micrsoft = BAD
    BAD + BAD doesnt = GOOD

  • Comment number 50.

    Typical Apple style over the substance with the "genius bar" - because it isn't a bar, and it certainly isn't staffed by geniuses.

    Windows-haters may not have noticed that Microsoft makes games consoles and may soon be touting Nokia phones. So a store has more retail potential than it used to when MS only sold Windows and Office.

    It's not a bad move, but it is a me-too - and more evidence that MS is becoming the Linux of today, forever playing catch-up with what the professionals are doing.

  • Comment number 51.

    #2 say, "The reality is that the stores are often absolutely rammed with teenagers who have neither the money nor intention to purchase products. "

    Apple (and firms like it) are in it for long haul gain. These teens are not so pennyless, 'daddy' will buy it for most middle and upper earning families. Daddy can I have an ipod, iphone, ipad, laptop pleaseeeeeeeee....

    Secondly the experience and brand 'cool'/caché will be instilled and when these teens do have cash......

    And if you have an iPod (not touch), yes you can move songs, not exactly one step procedure, but I've done it many many times.

    Finally, Apple computers are not closed environments. Run any OS you like actually, run any application you like, tinker, mess, install, modify. It's not the same as *tel box, but can be just as fun. Do a google search and see!

  • Comment number 52.

    I was in the Apple Store, Regent Street, yesterday. All I wanted was a new screen protector for my iPhone. Found a member of staff, asked my question, was instantly escorted to the right place, offered advice (by someone who appeared genuinely interested), made my choice, didn't have to queue to pay (they have these nifty little personal payment thingys), and I was in and out in 5 mins. A perfect shopping experience: compare with the hell of PC World or Curry's, where you're served by some spotty teenager who doesn't give two hoots what you want, and doesn't know anything about it anyway, and you can see why Apple have made such a success of things. When you buy an Apple product, you get the whole kaboodle. They care about their customers, even (shock! horror! AFTER they've taken your money).

    Microsoft have an uphill struggle.

  • Comment number 53.

    @50 Without meaning to come across as overly aggressive, just who exactly are Microsoft playing catch up to? Their 'main' business is selling Windows and Office software. In this field they simply own the market. I'm not saying that this is right, but it is the truth. Just about every office in Europe will be running Windows + MS Office. Yes, in the media and graphics industry Apple may have a more favorable position but this is very much against the norm. What Microsoft don't do, and are trying to fix, is create an image of quality and style. Because they are so dominant, they are seen as the norm, and the norm is boring. Face it, if you sit at a desk for 8 hours a day or more, you will get pretty sick of the same environment. So people see Apple as offering an exciting alternative.

    To give you an example of Microsoft dominance, my university has over 1300 computers open to all students. Think about it, that is 1300 Windows licenses, 1300 copies of Office. These don't include department specific computers, computers in lecturers' or research groups' offices or student laptops. Out of all of these, a few of the computers outside the 1300 (which are all Windows to support the various bits of software everyone uses) are Macs (a few students and lecturers have Macs).

    Yes in the phone market, Apple destroys Microsoft (at the moment) but we all know that this can change very quickly. Look at Android!

  • Comment number 54.

    When is all this going to end.

    I love the Apple Store and Apple products and I am starting to believe in Microsoft again - gradually.

    I don't really see the point in Microsoft opening these stores, They don't really have anything to show anyone. Pretty much everyone has used Windows at some point in their life and its not really changed a great deal. For Apple its a way to get people to move away from Windows.

    If you want to go to buy a computer with Windows on it you wouldn't think to go to a Microsoft store you just automatically think PC World etc.

    Apart from Computer Software Microsoft doesn't really have anything to show.
    They do a Zune (is that even out in the UK?)
    They have windows 7 - on someone elses hardware which they will earn barely any money on an OEM version.
    They have Windows Server which you wouldn't show in a store
    Printers maybe.

    So they might make a couple of £/$ on some OEM software or maybe someone might buy a full version but that's not a great deal to sell that would benefit them.

  • Comment number 55.

    Neil Jones #54.

    "I don't really see the point in Microsoft opening these stores, They don't really have anything to show anyone."

    interesting point. made me think that those stores will come in very handy to demonstrate domestic and office 'solutions' based on the up-coming devices developed around Kinect.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/rorycellanjones/2011/02/microsofts_future_only_kinect.html

  • Comment number 56.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 57.

    i would say with Microsofts operating system has had a bad reputation for years, they get viruses easily and thats a downfall on costumer trust, also they just copying apple to be honest they always been doing it, and they will constantly carry on with that strategy, its all about the reliability, organisation, products quality and costumer service and the fact you can go to the company to get your product fixed and everything sorted you need, not like Microsoft doing the cheaper alternative: using other products that do not belong to them being somewhat unorganised, distrustful giving there bad reputation, there going to have to make something so reliable, high quality and new to somewhat maybe tab back into the market again, some how i don't think they will manage, they will probably carrying on behinds apples shadow.

  • Comment number 58.

    A bit of competition is no bad thing. With Windows 7 and WP7 I think that MS have every chance of making themselves look as cool as Apple. They just need some decent hardware in the stores to show these products off.

    One thing I hope they do is improve on Apple's service. Taking anything in to be repaired to an Apple Store (even when pre booked online) is a complete nightmare. You have to;

    1. Book a slot to get your hardware checked (even if you know what the problem is).
    2. Book another slot to then arrange for your hardware to be 'booked in'.
    3. Book another slot to be told what was wrong.
    4. Book another slot to pay and collect.
    5. Pay an absolutely exhorbitant amount for something that should cost a lot less (I had to pay nearly £400 to get a new hard drive in my iMac). A job I could do on a PC for less than £120. If I could have got the glass screen off I would have done it myself!

    Anyway, it's unlikely that MS will open a shop near me (nearest Apple Store is Sheffield) so I will be unlikely to see what they have to offer anyway.

  • Comment number 59.

    @maxshortte1982

    Except it isn't that simple.

    Nokia makes good hardware, but is lacking on the software front.
    Microsoft generally makes decent software (ignoring the haters here - WP7 is a really good phone OS), but often is found lacking on the hardware front (look at the 360 for an example of that).

    So in theory this partnership should be good.

  • Comment number 60.

    "29. At 3:22pm on 23 Feb 2011, DibbySpot wrote:
    + produce a phone system that works on upgrade - if you cannot get an upgrade in place what hope?"

    Well having had Nocia and iPhone updates fail on several occasions and seeing in the news that the latest MS update has been pulled showing simular failures as my upgrades IE failing to restart after a "sucessful" update.

    I wonder what supplier you would recomend?

  • Comment number 61.

    Once again lots of people post on here and miss the point while taking shots at either Microsoft or Apple. Apple would not exist if it wasn't for MS buying a large proportion of non-voting stock in the early 90's. Grow up!

    This is really just a question of shopping and who does what. Sure Apple have stores which are great. They have everything easily laid out and trendy happy people ready to answer your questions. Brilliant. MS don't need as many shops and where they do have them it's probably more of an experiment to see how they take off. Both stores are about brand recognition and Apple has much more to gain as they sell directly to the public. MS hardly ever sell directly to the public in the Home Computing arena.

    If you buy anything from a technology high street store these days you're a mug. The stores (PC World, Apple, etc) are all crazily overpriced and most products can be found much cheaper on-line. Sure, go in and have a look but then go home, go on-line and save yourself a bundle.

    As an iPhone owner (when I bought mine it was the best fit for my needs) I really feel that the Apple fashionistas need to get a grip. You're not in a tribe!

  • Comment number 62.

    @61

    SuperG

    Can't let that go - MS made a $150 million investment in Apple in '97 along with agreeing to develop Office for the Mac into the Millennium. A wise investment as MS sold the stock and made a killing a few years later.
    Apple certainly would not have gone under without the investment but the Mac brand would have been decimated without a Mac version of Office.

    Regarding the stores - I find shopping at the Apple store irritating because they are always so busy much the same as I find Sainsbury's equally as irritating, except the Sainsbury's staff do not high five customers for purchasing a loaf of Hovis Wholemeal and clap and whoop as they leave.

    MS store? What can it offer that I cannot find in any major high street/retail park electrical store? Does MS have any originality? I consider MS an engaging corporation but I'm really starting to question it's direction - as it stands it's a two legged pony dragging a sore ass behind it...

  • Comment number 63.

    Microsoft should start by banning iTunes from its Windows platform on the legitimate grounds that it doesn't work properly on a multiuser operating system.

    Then Google should restrict access to all of its websites and content to any Safari browser unless that device can also run Google Chrome.

    All online retailers should charge anybody on an Apple platform an extra 30% for no good reason. Even the electricity companies should charge an extra 30% on any electricity being used to charge an Apple device.

    The rest of the IT industry, should really take a stand against Apple and treat them the same way that Apple treats everybody else. They won't be selling many iDevices then.

  • Comment number 64.

    @63 - How can you say this when Apple embrace all that is Open technology and frown upon such closed and proprietary technology such as Adobe Flash ;-)

    Apple's ideology is going to be severely testing in the coming 18 months, what with other technology catching up and the global recession making people think twice about how much they are investing. I hope they learn and continue to innovate (as I do think they have been good for technology) but I also hope they lose their arrogance.

  • Comment number 65.

    doubledip #63.

    "Microsoft should start by banning iTunes from its Windows platform on the legitimate grounds that it doesn't work properly on a multiuser operating system."

    Apple might counter-sue, putting M$ in the awkward position of having to prove that Windoze is a proper "multiuser operating system". LOL

  • Comment number 66.

    A Microsoft shop?! I actually burst out laughing when I saw this.

    I've been a Microsoft user since I can remember and I'm seriously considering changing over to Apple. Why? Well, whenever I have a problem with any of my Apple technology, I go in, state the problem and most of the time, they are really friendly and help you out. I can't count how many problems I've had with Windows but when you go on Google, search for the issue, Microsoft always make you feel like its your fault. You've clearly done something. Whenever I update my laptop, it stays updated for a good second before it comes up with a message "Windows needs updating." Why couldn't you fix all the bugs at the same time? OSX just seems more reliable. It no where needs the same about of updates as Windows!

  • Comment number 67.

    Jedra wrote:

    "Apple's ideology is going to be severely testing in the coming 18 months, what with other technology catching up and the global recession making people think twice about how much they are investing. I hope they learn and continue to innovate (as I do think they have been good for technology) but I also hope they lose their arrogance."

    Well, some people, and many from the part of the world where this site originates from, see confidence as "arrogance," and especially coming from an American or an American company.

  • Comment number 68.

    "Apple and Microsoft are two very different companies, that sell two very different products. Apple are primarily a hardware manufacturer, Microsoft is pure software."

    No, Apple is unique in that it is equally a hardware and a software manufacturer. That's obvious considering two of the world's most highly regarded operating systems, iOS and OS X, is written by them.

  • Comment number 69.

    I believe Apple is becoming blinded by capitalism. Only wanting money and less focusing on users. This shows well in today's android market. Android's becoming more and more popular with the major mobile companies and their new tablets and smartphones. open-source seems to outrun Apple's almost un-affordable devices these days. For example look at Motorola's new Xoom tablet which has much higher specs AND it runs on Android's HoneyComb

  • Comment number 70.

    Apple have a strong tendency to offer products in which their main selling point is design, that reflects in their retail stores, in which hundreds exist worldwide. Like many technology companies, their is a bandwagon in which they jump on, and in this common case, Microsoft are the culprits, I geniunly don't thin it will lift off.

  • Comment number 71.

    49. At 10:42pm on 23 Feb 2011, maxshortte1982 wrote:
    "Microsoft's partnership with Nokia"
    Nokia = BAD
    Micrsoft = BAD
    BAD + BAD doesnt = GOOD


    Nokia = good phones, bad OS
    Microsoft = good OS, no phones.

    Good + good = good...

    As for the MS / Apple debate - im not going to participate because its obvious no-one views are as good as mine

  • Comment number 72.

    the other day i needed some RAM. so i popped to the usual high-street shops. Curries, Comet, PC World etc. Between them all, they sold 1 stick of DDR2 (which is what i was after) at twice the price advertised on the web.
    Why does anyone who knows anything about PC's want to shop on the high street? it is *Always* going to be cheaper online...

  • Comment number 73.

    @ TimmyNorfolk

    Your comments = BAD. It means nothing.

    On the world wide web your and everyone else's comments count for nothing on their own if there is any degree of anonymity involved, a la this blog (excuse my Franglais).

    As for the structure of your posts, especially the second one... Moderators, are your standards slipping?

 

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.