Feeds

Apple raises retail stakes against Microsoft

Genius growth

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Apple plans to refurbish 100 of its retail stores this year, just as Microsoft prepares its first tentative moves into the bricks-and-mortar sector.

Ron Johnson, Apple's senior vice president of retail, is reported to have said the Cupertino computer consumer-electronics trend-setter will buff up its retail spaces by adding room for more products, increasing space for One to One customer-training offerings, and expanding its Genius Bar help desks by 50 per cent.

Yes, the economy may still be in the midst of the global meltdown, but that doesn't bother Johnson. "We know that a lot of people are cutting back, but we're doing the opposite," he told USA Today. "We're investing in the downturn."

And Apple's retail-store investments have certainly paid off - although when the first stores opened in May 2001, more than a few analysts said they were doomed to failure. Perhaps most famously, the president of research firm Channel Marketing, David Goldstein, told BusinessWeek at the time that: "I give them two years before they're turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake."

Sorry, Dave. It's now been eight years, and Apple has 255 retail stores - 209 in 41 US states, 20 in the UK, nine in Canada, seven in Japan, five in Australia, two in Switzerland, and one each in China, Germany, and Italy.

And there are more to come. According to Johnson, Apple has 25 new stores in the works, including a fourth New York City retail extravaganza, the long-awaited first Paris location, and new stores in Italy and Germany.

Microsoft has been watching Apple's success, and - understandably - wants some of that revenue-generating retail action. However, while Apple is preparing Retail 3.0 (version 2.0, the Apple "mini store," launched in 2004), Microsoft hasn't even released a beta.

As we reported in February of this year, Microsoft has hired Wal-Mart veteran David Porter to head up a retail push. Presumably he's now hard at work figuring our exactly where and when to open Redmond's first real-world retail spots.

Porter has his job cut out for him. Apple has succeeded in large part because it managed to transfer the sleek, hip look-and-feel of its products into an equally sleek and hip series of retail "experiences."

Arguably, Microsoft doesn't have the cachet needed to match Apple's formidable fleet of product-moving, culture-instilling, training-and-support-delivering, 255-and-counting destination-class sites.

It also remains to be seen whether Porter's 25 years at Wal-Mart will enable him to create a series of Microsoft retail destinations more enticing than those of his big-box former employer - or whether Redmond's retail efforts will be more akin to those of Gateway, which abandoned its sadly underperforming stores in 2004.

One thing is clear, though. Even as Microsoft prepares its first forays into the brick-and-mortar world, Apple isn't standing pat. With well over a third of its exisiting stores planned for revenue-enhancing facelifts, Cupertino is set to widen its real-world computer-shopping lead.®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.