The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

This past weekend saw the opening of San Francisco's Apple Store, to the customary wild fanfare. The company's retail outlets are a testament to the level of loyalty Apple users have (not to mention providing Apple a sure-fire, if expensive, way to ensure their products have a bricks-and-mortar sales channel).

This latest showing of Apple enthusiasm triggered idle speculation in me as to why Microsoft hasn't followed suit and opened their own chain of Microsoft Stores. I mean, Gates and Co. have stolen so many other ideas and concepts from Apple, why not this?

The answer, of course, is that there are already a bunch of Microsoft Stores in existence--they're called Best Buy, Target, CompUSA, Wal-Mart and about a thousand others. Microsoft doesn't need to open its own retail arm because it doesn't have any problem getting its product onto store shelves; that's the benefit of running a monopoly. The only reason to start up a Microsoft-branded store is out of pure ego, and if nothing else, Bill Gates isn't stupid. Online retailing is the other factor--it's a lot cheaper to set up an ecommerce site to do some selling instead of opening up a physical store.

Still, it would make for some interesting PR for the Big Redmond Machine. Bill Gates, if you're reading this, remember to give me my percentage. I might take it in the form of Xbox stuff; we'll talk.