Following Apple's Lead, Microsoft Opens Retail Store
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
In the computer world, Apple is often seen as the king of cool. Or at least that's what its commercials suggest.
(SOUNDBITE OF TELEVISION ADVERTISEMENT)
M: Hello, I'm a Mac.
M: And I'm a PC.
M: I'm into doing fun stuff like movies, music, podcasts - stuff like that.
M: I also do fun stuff like time sheets and spread sheets and pie charts.
M: OK. No, by fun I mean more in terms of - for example, it'd be kind of hard to capture a family vacation...
INSKEEP: That sense of style extends to Apple's more than 200 retail stores. And now, those stores face some competition. This week, Microsoft opened its first store in Scottsdale, Arizona. From member station KJZZ in Phoenix, Mark Brody reports.
(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHANTING)
MARK BRODY: There was definitely buildup Thursday morning at Scottsdale Fashion Square. Employees of the new Microsoft store led chants with a long line of customers waiting for the opening.
CROWD: Three, two, one.
U: Welcome to the Microsoft store.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
BRODY: Jason Claiborne(ph) of Mesa owns an IT company. He'd been waiting at the mall for almost 18 hours.
M: A little curiosity to see what they're going to try to roll out to beat, you know, Apple stores, because they're all fancy and stuff.
BRODY: More than a few of Claiborne's fellow line-waiters had an iPhone or Apple laptop to help them pass the time. And that's one of the challenges for Microsoft, according to Mary Jo Foley. She blogs about the company on ZDNet, a network of computer and technical blogs.
M: I think they've got to get people convinced that Microsoft's cool and you'd want to go to a Microsoft store, and that you'd gain value from going there as opposed to going wherever you usually buy a PC.
BRODIE: Microsoft's Mika Kramer is heading up the merchandising and marketing for the new store.
M: Apple's a great retailer. Microsoft will be a great retailer too, and it's all about Microsoft extending its relationship with its customers.
BRODIE: And, Kramer says, Microsoft has a specific goal in mind.
M: We're hoping that it'll establish that customer engagement, that relationship and that conversation with customers that we haven't had before. We sell through partners, we love our partners, and we actually now get a chance to engage one-on-one with our customers.
M: I don't know if this is a high-risk venture for them.
BRODIE: That's Seattle-based consultant Scott Bedbury. He advises companies on how to promote their brands.
M: But I think it's a high-gain potential in terms of having them develop for the first time, truly, a direct feedback loop between end users and the company.
BRODIE: One of those end users is Tyler Rockwood(ph). He was among the first in line to get into the store.
M: For NPR News, I'm Mark Brodie in Phoenix.
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