I made several warranty claims in-store, and they went above and beyond to help me out, even when my grounds for a claim were kinda shaky.
Microsoft did a really good job of hiring diverse talent, and every store-clerk I ever interacted with was smart, nice, and seemed to genuinely care about fixing your issue. Throughout the day, they held tech demos and video game competitions, and all the kids I saw in the store always seemed to be enjoying themselves. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that a kid visiting the Microsoft store in the mall was inspired to learn more about computers and technology based on their experience.
I will say, the surfaces/laptops side of the store was usually empty. Some kids playing with the Xbox or people at the counter getting help seemed to be the extent of traffic the past couple of years.
They seem to be aggressively destroying any paltry remaining goodwill with consumer enthusiasts. I'm sure it's great for the bottom line, but is the ultimate goal to only be competing with Google and AWS on who can run the cheapest Linux VMs in the cloud ?
It seems like the stores were a missed opportunity, but they always had the odds stacked against them. Whatever you can get in an MS store, you could get a much cheaper alternative running the same software at another electronic goods store or online. I suspect the theoretical opportunity was really a mirage and never really there.
There's an Apple Store a few blocks from me. I've never been there. But I like knowing I have the option.
Right - I feel like almost any city I'm going to for a conference will have an Apple store I can pop into if I have a problem.
What do you do if you have a ThinkPad or System76 and you get a problem while at a conference? I guess you're out of luck and on your own.
I find that more convenient than taking your laptop to the store.
Odds were against Microsoft stores being profitable because Microsoft is now an underdog in consumer tech. If you want hardware (possibly with the exception of xbox; I just do not know, never had one), Microsoft is rarely the name that jumps to mind. But this is exactly why Microsoft should keep them (using some profits from OS and software), even at a loss, to provide demos and let folks play with their toys. Not doing this means riding much more on inertia of existing corporate Windows 10 and Office installations. This is very profitable and still has a lot of inertia, but abandoning consumer tech is putting a $1.5 trillion dollar company into a more vulnerable long-term position.
I don't think this is abandoning consumer tech. Their ~90% domination is still a thing. They gained it without stores, and the stores weren't helping them maintain it.
There seems to be this cognitive lag where it seems like the stores should be a big deal, should be significant, giving them up should say something about Microsoft's position in the industry. A lot of commentary can't shake that perception. The reality though is it never was any of those things.
Phones for various reasons (and a lot of them are phone carrier bureaucracy related, I would imagine) "need" that extra bit of handholding, that service relationship when buying one. Even Apple Stores, the vast majority of the store space is devoted to phone sales and services and laptops/desktops an after-thought. If you hear of lines and busy days of Apple Stores, it is almost exclusively phones.
Microsoft created their Stores just too many months too late to save the Windows Phone after the main US carriers decided 3 OSes was one too many options to carry in their own stores. Once Microsoft Stores were no longer selling Phones they always had less reason to exist, mostly existed already as either Xbox Experiences or shadow versions of (for instance) Best Buy's Surface section, without the rewards/brand loyalty of something like Best Buy.
When the first X-box came out, the first one died within an hour of use... the second in about two days, the third is still running (or was last time I looked at it). 1/3 of TVs or Monitors I've mail ordered have been doa or didn't make it a month.
In the end, I really do hope some of them survive as there's something to be said for not mail order. Costco is usually really decent, and Best Buy is sometimes really frustrating, but I like having some options even if I don't like buying in person and would prefer mail order.
That said, I've been charged with being weirdly "old school" that I'd often rather pay extra at Best Buy than just order it for cheap on Amazon. (I've needed to replace a PC monitor since March, but keep procrastinating it because I don't want to buy it online.)
Though Amazon can be credited that they are consistent with returns in "shipped by" products as much as they are with "sold by" products. At least there their attempts at confusing the marketplace means they hold up some standards universally as well.
IMHO the real issue is the size of the audience. Phones get sold to people who would never buy a computer, "non-technicals" to a level that desktops and laptops never really touched.
These folks 1) need a lot of help choosing what to buy, 2) have a relationship with these items that is not driven by tech specs but by "feels", 3) buy stuff primarily in shops, not from websites.
It's surprising how my own attitude changes depending on if it's online: if I see an ad for Microsoft or other brands on the Internet, I'd feel irate and start to wonder why my ad blocker stopped working. But if I see a Microsoft store taking up thousands of square feet, I don't mind its presence and would totally check it out if I am not busy.
Such a helpdesk is expensive, though, the more so if you put it in a building in a premium location.
In Apple’s case, that’s paid for by sales. I imagine Microsoft didn’t manage to do that, if only because they have less hardware to sell.
Agreed - about that specific store. However, I must reflect that after years of going there with my children, we spent exactly zero dollars there.
We had fun and played video games and hung out and futzed around with various "exotic" computing devices from MS ... and we never had any intention of buying anything.
Exactly my experience last I visited. It seemed like the goal of the stores was misconceived from the start... like the purpose was to coax Surface into being a successful product, rather than build up a real store business of its own.
Within three months I bought one as a personal travel laptop and another one for work as my main laptop. An extended family member saw my Surface and bought one. Two people at work saw my work Surface and bought theirs for work. Having a Windows-only travel laptop made me look at WSL and I saw that while it was not perfect it is surprisingly useful which also surprised some die-hard Linux folks at work when they saw it. None of this would have happened if I did not walk by that Microsoft store; I would be buying another Dell laptop for work and griping about its lousy ergonomics.
For me, I wanted a surface pro (not book) with the largest screen available, so I ended up with the Surface Pro 4 and the keyboard -- I use it as a travel laptop, not an on-the-go device, and really love being able to have a decent keyboard and display when I am in a hotel without having to put a 4 lb monster into my backpack when I fly.
The experience was just so weirdly baffling and frustrating and I've since avoided the place. I realize this sounds like the height of American consumer entitlement but it was truly bizarre that the response to "Hi I would like to hand you more than $1,200" was "please wait 45 minutes."
Then there was also the confusion about who to actually to talk to in the first place if you wanted to buy something. Do I talk to the person at the door? Nope, because I don't have an appointment. I should just stand in a corner and hope someone finally talks to me. It was truly amazing that Apple could so thoroughly botch the experience of exchanging money for goods.
Of course with each progressive release being a little more cumbersome, and never really liking iOS devices. Some of the security locks that you can't turn off (enabled 2fa then sold off one of my two devices, don't know how the 2fa code got delivered to the device I was trying to re-log into, but was lucky in the end). I gifted my last mbp this past xmas, and haven't looked back.
I am mostly on my desktop or work issued laptop now. Hoping to see an upper-mid to high-end Ryzen model with at least 64gb ram and at least an RTX 2070 level gpu. All the current gen Ryzen laptops are seriously gimped in one way or another.
“No, please! I want to give you money. Can I please give you money now?”
I once bought a BLU Windows Phone in a Microsoft store. I really liked having a Windows Phone mostly because no one I ever met had seen one before and both Apple and Android users were shocked when they saw it. :)
After a few years my phone's battery indicator started failing, or at least that's what I think the problem was. The phone would suddenly say it was almost out of battery and had to shut down. When I restarted it the battery indicator would say some more reasonable number, consistent with how long ago I had charged the phone; but after a little while, long before it should have been running out of battery, it would again say it had almost no battery left and turn itself off.
I thought the phone's problem wasn't too serious yet and with some vigilance (checking it frequently to turn it on as soon as it turned itself off) I could use it a little longer. But my wife thought it was time for me to get a new phone, so I went to a Microsoft store only to discover they didn't sell them anymore. I think by then everyone had decided to give up on Windows Phones; I still valued what was their main selling point for me, the shock value, and would have gladly bought another!
At the store I started chatting a bit about my phone with the clerk who told me they didn't sell Windows Phones anymore, a heavyset young man. At some point I wanted to show him something on the phone so I took it out of my pocket but fumbled and dropped the phone. When the clerk saw I was about to drop the phone near him, he lifted the leg nearest the phone, but lost his balance and brought his foot down hard, right on my phone!
After that the phone wouldn't turn on anymore. The clerk was very apologetic and seemed willing to pay at least partially to replace my phone but I insisted that I was about to replace it anyway. I went somewhere else and bought myself a cheap Android phone. My wife was very happy the clerk had stepped on my Windows Phone since I had the left the house unconvinced it needed immediate replacement.
That shouldn't be a problem.
You describe the classic symptoms of a failing battery. The charging efficiency of a battery at the end of its life drops through the floor. This confuses the columb counter in the charge indicator: it sees an amp hour go into the battery, but most of it becomes heat, and maybe ten percent is useful charge. Therefore, the battery indicator happily says the battery is at 90% right up to when it abruptly dies.
Now, at this point I could estimate what the true remaining percentage was, just based on how long I had been using the phone. If often turned itself off when I reckoned it should be at 60%. If I turned the phone on again without charging it at all, the battery indicator would tell me that it did indeed have around the 60% charge I estimated.
The battery seemed to be holding charge just fine. If I added up all the usage I got out of a single charge, that time seemed to be about the same as before (a little over a day), it was just interrupted by several rounds of the phone thinking it had no battery left, turning itself on, me turning it on again and the phone sheepishly recognizing then it actually did have a lot of charge left.
Sorry if I didn't explain this understandably in the original comment.
This is great for the powered device, since it's nice and flat, but annoying for determining state of charge from terminal voltage, since it's awful and flat. I have not personally developed a state-of-charge indicator, but I would guess that one might use columb counting for the first half of the curve, then voltage monitoring for the second half, introducing odd discontinuities in the 80%-30% range. A truly clapped out battery will up and die before it got to the second half; a merely old battery will just be strange and inconsistent.
>If I turned the phone on again without charging it at all, the battery indicator would tell me that it did indeed have around the 60% charge I estimated.
Another delightful behavior of battery cells is "voltage sag". Battery voltage drops under load. The more current you draw, the bigger the drop. If you draw a big whack of current, then leave the battery alone, the voltage will drift back up: https://www.powerstream.com/x/Christopher-Suozzo-engine-cran... Additionally, the more you ask of a battery, the less capacity it will have https://www.cloudynights.com/uploads/monthly_09_2014/post-21... (1C is 1x the capacity rating of the battery. A 1C discharge of a 2 amp hour battery is 2 amps, 2C 4 amps, etc) and the shorter its lifespan will be https://www.batteryuniversity.com/_img/content/DST-cycles-we...
Combine these factors, we discover that while your phone was behaving very unintuitively, it might not have been lying. If you hit an old cell phone with a big enough draw, (prime95, bitcoin mining, opening a cnn.com story without adblock) the battery indicator could correctly say that only 4% of the battery is left. Shut it off, letting the battery recover a bit, then turn it back on, and ta dah, by the voltage curve with a light idle discharge, it's got 60% left.
Cell phone batteries generally last two or three years. Four years+ requires light discharges and not recharging it fully. Essentially, not using it at all.
(I'm not a hater - owned 2 Windows Phones myself, but MS's strategy always seemed self-defeating in the Phone space)
“...We will continue to co-locate engineering, sales, support, envisioning centers, executive briefing centers, and retail spaces for maximum impact for our customers and our company.”
What does that actually mean in real terms?
Maybe this is the opening for someone else to come up with an experiential computer store. I hope so.
Maybe having a physical store that lowers the barrier for making warranty claims, especially “shaky” ones, isn’t a profit maker.
Cost to fix a shaky piece of kit: $100
Future sale made because someone is happy with your service: $1,000
While I like to blame this sort of myopic thinking on SV, it seems like an entire generation, or two, has forgotten that if you make someone happy today, you've made a customer for life.
This was car sales 101 in the 1950's and 60's.
if they spend an hour or two fixing a screen your kid smashed for free, the screen costs $30-$50 wholesale, 1-2 hrs of labor, and fixed costs for the day like power, insurance, lease payment, etc...
I remember one day it was particularly stark. There was a line to get in at the Apple Store (not a launch day), and there were only employees inside the Microsoft Store. It was then I realized that the Microsoft Store wasn't about selling things, it was just a branding exercise.
This was my experience as well. As a bonus, my kiddo always wanted to stop into the Microsoft store. There was something warm and inviting about it, especially in comparison to the Apple store (we lived about 1/2 a block from each).
I attend one of the major universities (NC State) but plan to stay here after I graduate. The three major municipalities (Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Durham) are different enough and have a wide variety of suburbs around them to offer a lot of options for different price points, if you're planning on moving here.
I've met lots of different people in the area, and there are tons of things to do. Lots of good food.
The traffic isn't that bad. The major interstate that connects the three areas (I-40) gets congested some during the day, but it's nothing like what you'd see out in the valley. Living anywhere in the Triangle means you're effective 30-40 minutes away from everywhere else, so I know lots of people who live in e.g. Raleigh and work in Durham (or in the Park.)
The weather is pretty good! A bit hot in the summer, but spring and fall are really nice, and the winter isn't too cold. We usually only get 1-2 snows a year.
The best part though: you're 2 hours from the mountains and 2 hours from the beach. When you want to take a vacation, you've got both options to choose from.
Above all else, it's a fast growing area. Our public transit needs a lot of work, and there are plenty of other areas for improvement (bringing more startup talent to the area, rather than older established companies.) It's growing pretty notably though, and I for one am excited to be a part of the process _before_ the area explodes. 10 years from now, the area is going to be a lot more popular.
(I honestly don't know why that name has stuck, sure historically they may be linked, but unless you want to deal with ungodly traffic every day, you're probably not going to be going between Raleigh and Durham)
Durham has some serious unresolved problems with crime, Raleigh and Durham both have problems with traffic, the tech scene is not that robust, house prices are on a rocketship shaped trajectory and frankly it feels like a bubble.
I think the core of my complaints has generally been, if you want suburban sprawl, you can go literally anywhere on the eastern seaboard. There are safer cities than Durham, there are cities like Raleigh that don't have the same problems with growth it's facing
If you want a "city feeling", RDU isn't it. Raleigh downtown is how many blocks? Not many. Public transport is terrible so you're going to need a car if you can't contain your life in it.
Maybe if you have a family to settle down and strong earning power and good savings it's a good idea (that is to say, maybe I don't know, I still wouldn't). Or you're on the opposite end of the spectrum and have a lower income and really young with more interest in living in a "happening" place.
But for a new grad in tech or something in demand, your earning power is squandered on suppressed salaries (and no, it's not that mindboggling cheap to live there, especially not with all the money flowing in from all around the country), you're a little bit older than the point where most people are more interested in how many breweries per square mile there are. It just wasn't an appealing proposition to me.
I moved back to NYC and now I make 1.5x what I did there, but my living expenses have not risen nearly 1.5x, and I've probably saved up in 6 months more than I did in 1 year there... at that point you can afford a few nice vacations a year to make up for the weather
Apple stores, even if they exist mainly to promote the brand, are MASSIVELY profitable. In fact, they are one of the most profitable store chains in the world. By contract, I believe that Microsoft was always running most of their stores at a loss. Even for a massive company like Microsoft, continuously running an unprofitable division is hard to maintain.
We have a "high-end" Simon mall, in a town near where I live. It's quite "upscale," with Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, etc.
It has an Apple Store near the South entrance, and a Microsoft Store, near the center.
The Apple Store is always packed. I haven't been there in a few months, so I have no idea what's going on with it at the moment, but it has always been jammed, when I have gone there; even at early or late hours. I have never found a time when it is not crowded.
The Microsoft Store, on the other hand, usually has more staff than customers, with the staff playing XBox in the sitting area outside the store.
Like I'm sure that's what the point was. Someone would go try some Macs out at the Apple store and walk past the Microsoft store on the way to their car. They'd go in, check out the goods (as a matter of comparison shopping), and possibly buy a PC instead.
In my experience though, post-iPhone, very few people go to Apple stores to buy computers. Sure, that's still probably a lot of people, but 99.99% of the people in the store seem to be there about an iPhone (half the time, an iphone that they broke and expect to be fixed under warranty lol).
MS was in the business of selling phones for a while. I wonder if their stores lost traffic because they don't do phones anymore.
This proved a correct thesis for the apple store, and then the stores grew as apple built mass market products.
Microsoft’s product lineup does fairly well. But it is not mass market. And while they are different from PCs, they still run Windows, which is widely familiar among laptop buyers. Further, retail is less important a channel than it used to be. Microsoft can market its products directly online. So even if Microsoft has some of the disAdvantages Apple had, it doesn’t really have the full use case.
EDIT: Yes, everyone, I understand the marketing and lifetime-value reasons for doing that. I'm just questioning the value of comparing crowd sizes as a direct measure of relative instantaneous revenue/success.
It doesn't really matter, though, because as the OP pointed out, Apple Stores are massively profitable. This is well known in retail circles.
Landlords fall all over themselves to get Apple Stores. Real estate developers will include Apple Stores, or Apple Store lookalikes in their renderings even before the buildings are built, just to get people interested in their projects.
Microsoft set up a lot of stores in the same malls as Apple Stores. This disparity in numbers has always been the case, no matter how good the MS experience has been as others have pointed out. Seems Apple learned their lessons from the first time the battled Microsoft. Consumers don't do as deep of a research as the tech crowd thinks.
Crowds may be anecdotal, but the crowds clearly do translate into revenue for Apple.
The link spells out revenue per square foot for Apple as $5546, vs an average of $325. Second and third places bring in $3721 and $2951 per square foot.
I think that every one of them becomes a customer, eventually. Many of them become evangelists, which can sometimes be even more valuable.
There were--cough--a number of teenagers hanging around like groupies. One of them--cough--may even have installed their heavily customized SuperStarTrek game, and had it become the store's favourite demo.
It took far more than that to earn the trust of consumers. Microsoft decided to sit back, collect rent on Windows/Office, and let other business do the hard work of customer service and let their customers deal with malware on their laptops.
Contrast with Apple, who put customer service front and center, opened stores that my parents could go to and talk to someone if they had a problem. They took ownership of the product. And now they are rewarded with the profits.
Microsoft had all the cash in the world to make it happen. But instead, they put Candy Crush in the start menu.
Weak take. Microsoft was very active with numerous mobile offerings -- Pen Computing, Windows Mobile, Tablet and Embedded Windows. You can debate why they ultimately failed -- too early, insufficient hardware, too Windows-centric -- but @billg was never content just "collecting rent" and not innovating, especially in mobile, internet, and connectivity.
Your bias is obvious when you describe MSFT as "collecting rent" (negative connotation) and AAPL as "rewarded with profits" (positive).
Even on the business side, Microsoft never understood or cared about their users (besides maybe Word and Excel users), and marketed towards CEOs and COMPANIES.
see: Sharepoint which is the most financially successful Microsoft product ever, yet every end user despises it.
They never tried or cared to work backwards from a consumer user or what they wanted, they just started from "how do we make billions of dollars from licensing fees".
And got rid of Pinball. :(
they're an OS developer and they can't spend a day figuring out a floating point bug?
maybe redirect some of the time integrating Candy Crush
> Hey everybody asking that the source code be released: The source code was licensed from another company. If you want the source code, you have to go ask them.
OK, which company?
> they're an OS developer and they can't spend a day figuring out a floating point bug?
Maybe it’s bad to argue by appeal to authority, but I take Raymond Chen’s side that it was a hard problem to debug in the time available over some internet sneering that it must have been easy, any day.
Well they haven't ported it in the decade since.
> in the time available
They upped their game with the built in Windows Defender to the point where you don’t need third party AV because it’s rated so highly.
> Contrast with Apple, who put customer service front and center, opened stores that my parents could go to and talk to someone if they had a problem.
Like all the retail stores Microsoft opened, which people in this thread are saying provided a really good experience?
> Microsoft had all the cash in the world to make it happen. But instead, they put Candy Crush in the start menu.
Contrast with Apple who put sponsored results in the App Store and prevent you from deleting default apps in macOS Catalina? https://www.reddit.com/r/osx/comments/dfetr4/comment/f32q81e
Yes, the Genius Bars are just fantastic! You make an appointment and then you get help from someone knowledgeable, in person, for free. And that person is authorized to accept repairs, etc.
The Big Idea of the Genius Bar is that it's there to help. It's not there to upsell like Geek Squad. It's not hoping you'll go away like typical CS reps. Its mandate really does seem to be "make Apple customers happy."
The “family room” employees now make up most of the Apple Store staff. One can buy an iPhone anywhere, but same-day service to fix that iPhone is more limited. I mean, where would you go?
The cost of payroll for Geniuses, Technical Specialists, Genius Admins, and Trainers, is quite a bit higher than for sales staff - higher pay and the larger headcount of the department. Because of this, any profit from the sales side is absorbed by the tremendous cost of operating their service business.
One of the best things about the Microsoft stores is that they provided an obvious way to get individual attention on software issues. My grandfather was a frequent visitor of the Microsoft stores to resolve his software issues with his SurfaceBook and his generic Dell Laptop.
This type of one on one, in person attention was really useful to him and made the Microsoft brand much more approachable. He loved going and he's gotten really great with his computers!
Disappointing news for him and for me, although I can understand the business justification.
Understanding the business justification is why I don’t understand why people think Apple products are overpriced. Not a single other tech organization wants to provide customer service other than Apple, even one with as much cash as Microsoft. Why should I not reward Apple for putting their money where their mouth is?
Obviously, anything less expensive than Apple products makes it unfeasible to offer customer service in person and only merits waiting in a phone queue.
That's a stretch. I'd argue the level of support they're providing is the of the lowest-hanging-fruit level (e.g. how do I transfer my contacts, setup the device). Support forums are full of stories (and from my own experience) where hardware related issues are dismissed and rejected at their stores.
Hearing the news today that the store wasn't going to be open I decided to try the online support and it is a total mess. I tried to use text chat but after an hour my position in the queue actually went up. So I decided to have them call me which the wait took much longer than quoted. Then I spent over an hour on the phone with a representative for what they even admitted was obviously a manufacturer defect.
They didn't want to send me a new device before I shipped them my RMA unit so they expected me to be without my laptop for a week while they processed the claim. Then when they finally caved they couldn't tell me how large of a hold they would put on my card while before my RMA reached them.
This whole process would have taken 5 minutes at the store, and I would have walked out with a new laptop right then.
All in all I feel like all my Microsoft hardware products just massively depreciated in value.
I found out there was a MS store right by where my internship was, so I stopped by, explained my problem and showed it to them, and they handed me a new replacement on the spot.
So yeah, same experience here lol. I wasn't going to mention it because I figured they had gotten better by now. I'm sad to hear they haven't! That.. means I probably won't be buying any surface hardware again lol.
Great observation. Top comment in this thread.
But I think it's pretty telling that I loved hanging out in them, but never spent any money there.
Not only that, it was the only place where I’m sure I’ll ever see the Surface Hub. An incredible “interactive whiteboard” running a special version of Windows 10, the price of which is “please ask for a quote”.
The Microsoft store was really like a mini CES more than a showroom for Microsoft things. I will miss it dearly.
I must say the experience is very impactful to your perception of the brand and a lot of fun
With an Apple laptop you know what you're getting. But with a Dell, Sony, HP, Lenovo, etc, the quality is all over the map. I would have loved a single location where I could test out all the best laptops available, and I always wished the MS store had evolved into that.
Only because of the state of tech stores in Boston, if I needed something that wasn't Apple (gaming mostly) they were the only other tech store I could reasonably walk or take the train too. Microcenter isn't super close to a train station.
Beats the one closest to Philly, which was a decent drive out of town.
Fry’s is either always going out of business (Palo Alto) or always out of stock of whatever I need.
Now with Microsoft gone, that leaves us Best Buy, Central Computer, Fry’s, the internet, and Apple.
I also liked that their staff seemed more like regular kids rather than “cool” kids, but maybe it’s a misreading.
The Microsoft Store in Boston would regularly hold Halo tournaments and similar events later in the day.
However I am torn on being so near Apple Stores. I feel like it caused them to choose worse locations. In Boston, Apple has their 3 story street level location, while Microsoft was across the street but hidden in a mall.
I can't think of an event where I needed to go to the Apple store and would have been able to go to Microsoft Store instead.
More, I am just sad to be loosing one of the already very few tech stores we have in Boston.
Though, I guess now I look back on it fondly.
Unfortunately a string of failed attempts to find the correct evolutionary gradient will leave customers with a sour taste. There's a lot to balance.
Running a company is hard.
The part in the middle was definitely missing
I worked for 5 years at the most revenue-generating microsoft store in the world. We were near the official Microsoft campus. The short answer is that things started to change internally around 2017, where stores changed their hiring requirements and excised a lot of their top talent in favor of lower-paid, less enthusiastic management and employees. This has been a steady downhill process since - It is a shame that the stores will no longer be. I loved my time working there, and loved the people and connections I made there both personally and professionally. We genuinely went out of our way to make customers happy, no matter the cost. It was inevitable that kind of goodwill would be snuffed out by profit motive eventually.
I'm convinced this is deliberate - the apple store is full of blue shirts and people waiting for their appointments / devices to be fixed. It makes the shops look like they're busy, most shops would not make people wait around like that for things to be fixed, but apple gets away with it somehow. It's all very clever - I call it apple theatre, and yes I participate myself. I'd never wait that long to get my PC fixed, I'd drop it off and come back to pick it up - total time 5 minutes, but somehow apple make it so people happily sit round while the genii investigate things and engage in the mystical business of fixing the phone/Mac, challenging the apple hierarchy to get that special repair price for you, and I don't think I've paid full price for a repair for a long time (ever?), so I indulge them.
Most Apple stores are located in malls and adjacent to other retail outlets. If you have to wait for an appointment, they take your number and give you a five minute notification when your Genius is going to be ready. Every time I've done it, they've encouraged me to go shop the rest of the mall (not linger).
> It makes the shops look like they're busy, most shops would not make people wait around like that for things to be fixed, but apple gets away with it somehow.
Apple used to get a lot bit of flack for struggling to keep up with Genius appointment loads. I'm not sure if their service has improved or people just accept that wait times are a thing. The few times I've dealt with them it's been reasonable considering the store was basically packed and all 4 Geniuses at the desk working with someone constantly.
Though I would say I haven't experienced the five minute notification, every time was longer than that, again though, not complaining, I find the whole experience entertaining - the lights, the choreography, the cast of characters - best mall experience.
I have also dropped off Macs at a local non-Apple-Store authorized repair shop and it was 20-30 minutes before I was helped. I think it's just how things are with support/repairs.
One of the hard things for MS I think is that the Apple store was successful because you couldn't get a Mac in the past anywhere else and it was a good experience that really set the tone of the Mac.
Then the iPhone and iPod happened, that blew up the Store market for Apple.
Microsoft doesn't have an iPhone, didn't have a successful consumer market beyond the Xbox and most can and will get a Microsoft product somewhere else. Worse even, it is a hard place to read for the customer. What do they sell? Obviously products running windows, but I don't think that really tied back to Microsoft's own products, surface, Xbox, etc. When the stores first were created the notable thing I realized about them was this: People, normal people, don't actually care about Microsoft. They use their massive body of work, they live the Microsoft life, but they don't actually see it as cool or interesting. Few normal people are like 'Woah, look at the Surface Neo!'. They have a major uptight brand problem, maybe the Mac v PC ads helped cause that, perhaps an engineering-led culture rather than a product or human-focused culture?
I think the lesson MS learned here is that you can and could copy everything about an Apple store but that doesn't make you Apple and doesn't bring their unique context in which the stores work extremely well.
Maybe because the standard advice given when purchasing a Microsoft device was to spend hours reinstalling Windows to remove malware. I know technically it was HP or Dell or Sony’s device, but since there was no non malware option, obviously Microsoft chose to let those brands sully Microsoft’s brand for a few dollars in short term profit.
CompUSA and Best Buy sold them, so did a lot of independent resellers. I guess it was kinda like buying a thinkpad back then.
Indie computer shops used to really be a thing in large cities.
Even if the "value add" was a pro-level photo to boost job offers, why are we using photos for job offers in the first place?
The Microsoft Store was basically a bad version of Best Buy that happened to sell Microsoft's hardware products front and center.
Why would a customer go to a Microsoft Store instead of a Best Buy? It has less selection, fewer locations, and likely worse prices, while selling essentially the same product categories.
The Apple Store, in contrast, is arguably mostly possible because it's a massive cell phone store, and before that an iPod store. They didn't exist before the iPod era. By now, Macs probably only account for 5% of the economic activity that takes place in Apple Stores.
Either that, or you have to go directly to the vendors website and buy one of the business laptops.
It's not like Microsoft didn't have popular stuff to sell, especially the Xbox.
Some Oxford Street stores do make lots of money but there are many others where ten minutes in the store is enough for you to see what is going on. The whole range can be on show whereas in your regional town there is a fraction of the range. But you can experience the brand.
Adjacent to Oxford Street is Tottenham Court Road. This was legendary in the 1990s for computer shops with fairs in nearby halls where you could buy components for competitive prices, as if nobody was paying VAT. That scene went a long time ago for more flagship stores to come along. These flagship stores don't have to make sales to cover the rent. Microsoft are part of the theme park.
Not to be rude, but this idea is out of touch. Basically no one would want this and the PC building market is impossibly tiny today. You'd get zero foot traffic.
No one is building their own computers anymore and those that are, are serviced incredibly well by Amazon/Newegg/etc.
They aren’t big box by any means, but I’ve been very happy to shop there. Better selection than Best Buy, better curation than Amazon.
The PC building section at micro center is always packed with all sorts of people buying full parts for a gaming PC.
There used to be variations of a lot of these all over the place. Some were exclusively software (Babbages), some had a mix (we had a local franchise called Computer Warehouse, often located in small strip-mall locations). I loved working at CompUSA (more like Microcenter; a little smaller than the Microcenter that is a half-mile from where I worked, also formerly two miles away from a Computer City).
Retail computer hardware is basically gone these days except for small, independent, shops. I'm so glad I live 20 minutes from a Micro Center. I used to live about as far from a Microsoft store, too. :)
Demonstrating touch interfaces in the COVID world simply isn't going to work anymore. The cloud has won, COVID killed prem.
Was it profitable? Doesn't matter.
Maybe that was the issue. At an Apple store if you said 'my kid needs a laptop for college' they will walk you to ONE computer (MBA) and say 'it's the best one' it's painless whereas MS was tied down by their partners to being non-confident in their own line and basically being a Best Buy.
Of course the Best Buy model of having manufacturer space like a mini mall helps balance this loss, it’s not the same level of interaction.
ETA: Which is maybe the biggest loss with the Microsoft Stores going away. You could point a relative at a Microsoft Store and not worry about any PC they picked, but any other store you'd need to expect to do a reinstall for them or worry about which specific brand name they picked.
the stores had a such a strong "games" presence that I assumed it would be critical showpiece of them-- especially if they have an All Digital hardware edition which meant (albeit dying) retailers like Gamestop would probably not carry the console.
it's a shame, regardless. i always had such a good customer experience there.
Fun fact: MS always aimed to open their outlets in serious close proximity to Apple stores.
We've already seen one mall owner in the UK go into administration.
They first tried a retail store ~1999-2001, before even Apple, with at least one outlet being in San Francisco's downtown 'Metreon':
(By my recollection, it was somewhere within the 2nd-floor footprint of the Target that's there now... not far from the bowling alley/arcade.)
If one company is going to open an electronics store, they will put it where it is accessible to the most possible customers. If another company wants to open one they can either put it in the same place for the same reason - and now there are customers who go to that region to buy that kind of goods making it more desirable - or they can put it somewhere else where it is accessible to fewer customers, and that’s a silly decision.
Some of it was documented as intentional. The one specific one I know was that Microsoft was said very explicitly in location scouting in New York that their NYC store needed to be close the Apple Store.
Anecdotally, my city has two malls on the same side of the same street with an interstate in between them (and today owned by the same management company even). Apple for various reasons chose the smaller of the two with less overall foot traffic. Microsoft could have gone to the mall with more foot traffic, but didn't. While anecdotes are not proof, it is amusing sign.
In some sense, this is a big window of opportunity for Dell to get smart and fix their website from looking like a warehouse dump for nerds who want the best deal and give a shit about specs, to actual customers who just to see an intuitive product line-up and extra details if and when they want that.
Were these ever super profitable, or did they just count under brand marketing?
Note that this discounts design superiority/inferiority.
I was at the mall the other day and saw a long line up of people looking to get in and a girl with an iPad looking through her list to see if she could admit people immediately (the people who made appointments), or make them wait (those who didn't).
Plus the average person has no idea what Hololens is and the Surface brand is not actually strongly associated as well (at least it's not the first three things a customer thinks).
Basically to the average person it seems like a `Best Buy that sells less cool stuff`.
In comparison, the first things when people think of Apple is 'iPhone' followed by 'iPad', and 'Mac'; all of which outsell the Surface Brand multiple (or in the case of the iPhone, hundreds of) times to 1.
If Microsoft opened Xbox stores.. I actually would expect success.
I don't know how you can say "most are industry leaders in their respective segments."
The fact of the matter is that Apple is the biggest manufacturer of smartphones in terms of net profit, by far. It’s not even remotely close. That sounds like an industry leader to me.
Like you said....others are not even on the same planet. I think people really fail to understand the scale of Apple's success.