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Microsoft 'Hut' Opens Outside Seattle Apple Store 262

Posted by samzenpus
from the competition-on-your-doorstep dept.
theodp writes "On October 20th, Microsoft will open its 14th store in Seattle's popular University Village shopping center, where it will go head-to-head against an existing Apple Store. To help build buzz for next week's grand opening, Microsoft set up a temporary Kinect-equipped hut within spitting distance of the Apple store, a guerrilla marketing effort designed to catch the attention of the throngs flocking to the Apple Store for the new iPhone 4S. Microsoft will up the marketing ante for next weekend's grand opening, transforming the parking lot between the two stores into a concert venue for performances by The Black Keys and OneRepublic. Any bets on whether the concerts will drum up more business for the Zune Market Place or the iTunes Store?"
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Microsoft 'Hut' Opens Outside Seattle Apple Store

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  • by symbolset (646467) * on Sunday October 16, 2011 @04:49PM (#37733060) Journal

    Maybe it would be best in consideration of the season and in light of current events for Microsoft's marketing department to reprise this popular event from the launch of Windows Phone.

    The free concert series [billboard.com] was a big hit for WP7 - it drew big crowds.

      • That was the launch of WP7 - almost a year ago to the day.

        This "Mango" version coming out at the end of the year is the version that is REALLY supposed to work. And they have better bands this time. And they got their mobile OS a kewl new food-based nickname. (How original!)

        Yes, any year now they should be ready to compete with where Apple and Android were a couple of years ago.

    • by A12m0v (1315511)

      What does Microsoft have to sell? As a Zune HD owner I'm disappointed they didn't bring a Zune HD2.

      • by SomePgmr (2021234)
        Yeah didn't they kill the whole Zune line?

        What's kindof interesting is, I played with a windows phone lately. To be honest, they're pretty slick.

        I guess they just fell asleep at the wheel with the crappy old WinMo and showed up way too late for the current generation of smartphones.
        • by ozmanjusri (601766) <[aussie_bob] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Monday October 17, 2011 @01:31AM (#37735724) Journal

          To be honest, they're pretty slick.

          I've seen this comment about a lot of MS products lately, like the Office ribbon, Win 7/8, Mango, etc. Problem is, once you press the Microsoft evangelists on what they actually DO better, they can't tell you (and instead just get their mod-squad to downvote the comment to oblivion). As a result, Kinect is one of the rare products they have which is even vaguely inspiring.

          Between that, and antics like this Kinect-hut, you'd have to say Apple has spooked them so thoroughly they're putting all their efforts into making shiny products instead of effective ones.

      • by JAlexoi (1085785)
        Ahem... XBox? Their softwarez?
  • Spitting distance? Ballmer must have selected the location.

    • aaah (Score:3, Funny)

      by unity100 (970058)
      that would be 'chair-throwing distance'. not spit.
    • by Divebus (860563)

      Spitting distance? Isn't that "squirting distance"?

      It's hard to believe Microsoft would be so willing to show this direct comparison - revealing they haven't had an original thought in ten years.

      • by ConceptJunkie (24823) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @07:52PM (#37734114) Homepage Journal

        What original thought did Microsoft have 10 years ago? Even 20 or 30? Microsoft has actually built some good software on occasion, but they have never had an original thought since Bill Gates wrote a BASIC interpreter on paper tape in 1975.

        Actually, MSR has plenty of original thoughts, but what just like Vegas, whatever happens in MSR stays in MSR.

        • by Divebus (860563)

          The original thoughts Microsoft had more than 10 years ago... uh, got me there.

  • by robot256 (1635039) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @04:58PM (#37733116)

    On October 20th, Microsoft will open its 14th store in Seattle's popular University Village shopping center...

    Why do they need 14 stores in one shopping center?

    • Apparently 14 of them [microsoftstore.com] now. I don't know how profitable they are though as MS has not divulged or bragged about that aspect. Apple retails stores do seem profitable.
      • Apparently 14 of them [microsoftstore.com] now. I don't know how profitable they are though as MS has not divulged or bragged about that aspect. Apple retails stores do seem profitable.

        I walked in one once. It's eery how they are total rip off of the Apple store. I think the employee uniforms, furniture and paint came from the same supplier.

      • by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @05:49PM (#37733418)
        For MS it might not be so much a store but a means to get mind share. Apple has lots of cool gadgets. Microsoft: Xbox 360 and ... no that's it. The rest is productivity stuff, and large corporate software. Sure there are games, there are phones running WinPhone etc.but it won't be nearly the same experience as an Apple store where you go in and see one companies shinny products I think. Where it could help Microsoft is give the brand a "face". "I like Office better than LibreOffice because that nice guy in the store spent an hour showing me how to use it" kind of thing.
      • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @06:31PM (#37733660) Homepage
        I completely forgot about their stores and didn't realise any opened. I tried looking on the net and there isn't much being said about them. The only thing I found were these.

        http://articles.latimes.com/2010/nov/26/business/la-fi-microsoft-stores-20101126 [latimes.com]
        http://www.tuaw.com/2010/11/26/lost-in-translation-microsoft-retail-stores-not-matching-apple/ [tuaw.com]
        http://www.informationweek.com/news/windows/microsoft_news/229401433 [informationweek.com]


        The gist of them seem to be that Microsoft is copying Apple so they have the same look but unlike the Apple store the MS stores aren't a good value because they don't carry as much stock and can't compete on price with other shops carrying Windows based computers.

        That's always going to be a problem for them. They aren't a hardware company (for the most part) so unlike Apple they don't have a ncie small set of hardware that they can offer at the best price available. Apple computers may cost more than Wintel machines but when you go to an Apple store the price of the Mac is the best price you can get for a mac without a student discount.

        You go into a Microsoft store and you see PCs that you can get elsewhere for cheaper. Where's the incentive to buy from Microsoft? Imo, their stores will die out quietly or they'll just sell them to someone who can offer a better deal and probably ask to keep the branding.
        • Yeah I don't see the ROI on them other than brand recognition. Apple stores are profitable and in some cases like right now with the iPhone 4S, it may be the only place you can get certain Apple products.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Wamoc (1263324)

          You go into a Microsoft store and you see PCs that you can get elsewhere for cheaper. Where's the incentive to buy from Microsoft?.

          The reason the computers in Microsoft Stores are more expensive is because they run Windows Signature which does not contain the bloatware that comes on machines bought from the manufacturers, and is also tuned for optimal performance on that machine. To my knowledge, the Microsoft Store is the only place that will sell the machines with Signature, but I could be wrong in that regard.
          Disclaimer: I do work for Microsoft. I also expect suddenly everyone on Slashdot will probably try to burn me at the stake

          • by Jason Earl (1894) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @11:00PM (#37735072) Homepage Journal

            In other words, Microsoft's sells the same hardware as everyone else, but they mark up the price and remove all of the extras that other computer manufacturer's include for free.

            Yes, I know that most of the extras that OEMs add to their computers are crapware, but try explaining that to your average consumer without mentioning that the trial version of MS Office (that probably ships on the Microsoft Signature version) also fits into the same boat.

            My guess is that these stores simply drive people right into Apple's arms. Apple's ridiculous prices almost certainly seem less ridiculous when compared to Microsoft's premium prices. The fact of the matter is that most Windows users don't actually want to use Windows. They just can't quite justify buying a Mac. Jacking up the prices on PCs is not likely to help.

      • by sootman (158191) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @10:28PM (#37734902) Homepage Journal

        > Apple retails stores do seem profitable.

        You don't know how right you are. They are, in fact, more profitable per square foot than any other retail store, period. [seekingalpha.com] "... more than six times the revenue per square foot at Neiman Marcus, four times that of Best Buy, and about one and a half times that at Tiffany's"

  • by arkane1234 (457605)

    Microsoft can have a store at every corner of every street in the world and I'd still avoid them like the plague.
    I lost respect for them completely in 1997 (cratered by their previous blunders), so it'd be on par with walking into Walmart.
    In fact, both have the same feel.

  • by diegocg (1680514) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @05:18PM (#37733256)

    Sure, Kinect is going to make iPhone users want to buy a WP7-based phone...

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @05:31PM (#37733330)

    Microsoft's had a Kinect hut set up on Red Square at the University of Washington for several weeks (since the week before school began). It's been popular - not "waiting in line" popular, but there's always someone playing in there. Well, hold on, there are 35,000 students at UW so maybe it's not all that popular...

    In any case, I'm sure they'll get good attendance at the Kinect hut; and if they're selling games in the Microsoft Store I'm sure a goodly number of people will be in there looking. From what I've seen and heard, though, it's unlikely there'll be much crossover success with regards to Windows computers. I know several Mac users who own XBox 360s, but I've never heard any of them say "you know, I think I'll try Windows again because my gaming console is just so great!" People compartmentalize their technology. Most of the Windows admins I know own iPhones (seriously, none of them own an Android or a Windows Mobile phone) - and I've never heard any of them say "I like my phone so much, I think I'll buy a Mac!"

    I'm sure a lot of customers will stop by on the way, listen to some music, maybe play a game... and then go on into the Apple Store.

    • But what are the game prices like? The complaints I've heard about the PC hardware is that MS isn't competitive on price so if you want a Windows PC then a MS store is probably the last place you want to go.
    • by JAlexoi (1085785)
      Big problem with Microsoft is that XBox360 does not correlate with Microsoft in ordinary people's minds. PlayStation always reminds people of Sony. Mac reminds people of Apple. XBox, not so much. But maybe that is a good thing for XBox. Maybe Microsoft has to rename itself to XBox to have more appeal.
  • I believe (Score:4, Insightful)

    by crumbz (41803) <<remove_spam>jus ... spam>gmail...com> on Sunday October 16, 2011 @05:32PM (#37733334) Homepage

    this just proves that Microsoft doesn't get it. For all there R&D dollars and for all their marketing dollars, piggybacking off of Apple places them in a poor light, a "hey look, we are relevant too" kinda light. Apart from the OS space and the occasional Windows phone, Microsoft and Apple are no longer the direct competitors they once were.

    • I wonder if the real reason was to get access to the parking lot so they could fill it up with the concert and concert people to keep people from the Apple store opening. Big concert = no parking left. That could be the real reason if you are a conspiracy theorist.

    • by jimicus (737525)

      They've been doing it for 25 years, why stop now?

  • "The company has set up a temporary hut within spitting distance of the Apple store. "

    And you couldn't get one photo showing how close the "hut" is to the Apple store? All I see in your photo is a white cargo box in a parking lot. That photo could have been taken anywhere on the planet. If your entire story is going to be able how incredibly close a Microsoft store/hut is to a Apple store *at least* have photos to back up your claim.

    And the photos you do have are beautiful. One photo shows the Mic
    • So not only did you not take a photo proving the Microsoft "Store" is within spitting distance of the Apple store, you couldn't take one decent photo of what *was* there. All kinds of fail is going on here.

      Yeah, I know University Village reasonably well - and I can't tell with certainty where these photos are taken from. Since I can see the Barnes & Noble, I can tell it's on the same half of U Village that the Apple Store is in... but that's quite a large place.

      My best guess is this is closer to 25th, on the other side of Fran's Chocolate and the garden shop whose name escapes me (Ravenna Gardens - thank you Google Maps). If so, you can't actually see the Apple Store from this location.

  • Pizza Hut needs to sue their pants off.
  • Microsoft is not a "cool" brand. It's the brand that people are forced to use in the office because Microsoft has essentially left no choice. This is not a good reason to buy Microsoft.

    But MS does have a cool brand that it controls. It has XBox. It's even managed to give Kinect its own identity. Windows phone 7 may not be able to hook onto those, but Microsoft can create a brand. Relying on the existing brand doesn't make sense if they want to appeal to the trendsetters.
    • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @06:55PM (#37733782) Homepage
      I think Microsoft realises it's not cool and that on PCs it has its position purely because of its legacy support.

      What else do they have?

      Kin - failure

      Zune - Failure

      Windows Phone 7 - it's creaking along gaining a tiny bit of market share one month and losing market share another

      Kinect - everyone except gamers seem to like them and buy them. At least they're selling them but I'm not sure I'd want to make Kinect games.

      Xbox - It's a success in that it's not losing money but is that because it's awesome or because everything is an expensive proprietary add-on and its whole online model is built around milking you for money (ie MS points, subscription based, no web browser and most services requiring a Gold account) and even then it's only really a success in North America. Because of this the Wii has blasted right past it to first place and despite all of Sony's monumental fuck ups and launching 1 year later MS only lead of a few million over Sony. Any little foul up in the next generation could leave them dead last. They could still end up in 3rd place in this generation if it lasts much longer.

      Microsoft using legacy support to tie users to their OS worked really well for Windows. Windows will probably always be number 1 for at least another decade. But I think they've really damaged their reputation with Windows. Allowing OEMs to install any sort of crap on top of Windows and allowing them to put it on machines that weren't really up to the job of running it just makes windows look bad. So I think when people don't require some legacy Windows app they go elsewhere.

      Some of those people I think are then realising that actually they don't need Windows, love their iphone and then get a Mac so Apple's market share has been creeping up even if there isn't any chance of it over taking MS any time soon. So I think they are a bit scared with times changing and think having a propaganda to push nothing but Windows will some how help.

      In a way I think it will only hurt because from everything I've read MS stores seem to be (or were) more expensive for Wintel machines so they'll end up looking like they're ripping off customers.
    • by formfeed (703859)

      Microsoft is not a "cool" brand. It's the brand that people are forced to use in the office because Microsoft has essentially left no choice. This is not a good reason to buy Microsoft.

      Not just forced into. People who are not interested in computers at all will buy Microsoft. People who just want something that is common enough to not be too out of the ordinary or avantgarde-ish. If Microsoft made fanboy T-Shirts they would say "default"

  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @05:56PM (#37733460)
    Because "Microsoft ghetto" was judged to be too uncomfortably close to the truth.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @06:01PM (#37733476)

    There's a post in the Seattle PI's "Microsoft Blog" [seattlepi.com] that shows the location for the actual store - it is indeed right across the parking lot from the Apple Store.

    I can understand why Microsoft would want to do that, I guess, in terms of symbolism - but I think it's a terrible business mistake. Whatever you think of Microsoft and their products, you can't believe they've got the same cachet that Apple does. People aren't going to be hunting them out - but MS has picked a spot with seriously bad visibility from most of the mall. University Village isn't a big enclosed mall - it's an open-air space where most of the shops are scattered among smaller buildings that open straight onto parking lots. The Apple Store is on a side lot that's set back somewhat, but it at least is visible as people are driving through the lot from the 25th Avenue entrance (plus people are going to be looking for them anyway). Someone coming from that entrance and driving straight in won't even see the Microsoft Store - as they pass that side lot, the MS Store will be behind their left shoulder while the Apple Store will be in front of them.

    • Unless it turns out to be hugely popular (I find it hard to believe they are since MS is been so quiet) it'll be a mistake. Having an empty MS store across from a busy Apple store just makes Apple look better.
      • Unless it turns out to be hugely popular (I find it hard to believe they are since MS is been so quiet) it'll be a mistake. Having an empty MS store across from a busy Apple store just makes Apple look better.

        There is / was a Sony store about 1/2 block and 90 degrees to the Apple Store. Wandered in there once waiting for the crowd to thin out at the Apple Store (it was soon after the iPad launch).

        Quiet. Eerily quiet. A bunch of TVs hooked to MTV, some headphones, a bunch of computers at random screens. A couple of employees crouched in the corner. Dark.

        They don't get it. Microsoft doesn't get it. I'm not really sure I get what the attraction is about the store but it sure has resonated with a bunch of pe

  • Just as BurgerKIng uses McDonalds site planning and places stores near them, so Microsoft falls into the same seemingly profitable pattern. Hey! Yes Hey! Microsoft! Isn't McDonalds Bigger than Burger King??? Ever hear of first mover advantage? It applies to real estate too. If they liked your location they'd be there.
    • I think part of it is MS being cheap and lazy. Apple seemingly puts a lot of research into where they place their stores for maximum revenue potential. MS just puts their store where Apple has a store so they don't to do any research and piggybacks on Apple. The thing is Apple's customers are not MS customers so that approach may be flawed.
  • Based on what Microsoft has that it can sell to consumers, they'd be a lot smarter to locate near a GameStop than an Apple store. They XBox line is really all that they have to sell directly to consumers.
    • This crossed my mind, but not in the way you mention. I was thinking that it would be a huge mistake for Microsoft to put these things anywhere near a GameStop because if GameStop feels threatened they'll tell their employees to start plugging Sony and Nintendo, they'll cut down on shelf space dedicated to XBox, and their magazine will have an anti-MS bias.

      So they're probably keeping these things as far away from GameStops as possible. You compete with your competitors, not your partners. I don't think it s

  • Should just get a room.
  • by swb (14022) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @09:01PM (#37734446)

    ...has an Apple store and a Microsoft store very nearly across the same hallway from each other.

    I can't stand the Mall of America but on every compulsory trip I've taken there, the Microsoft store is nearly empty. A few people (my 7 year old included) are goofing with a Kinect up front, a few losers are using the demo PCs for Facebook updates and that's it.

    The Apple store on the other side of the hallway is packed, with nary a demo iPad or Mac unattended. Lots of people in the store.

    In neither case did I count who walked out with stuff, but the interest level in the Apple store was high.

    I thought the Microsoft store was generally attractive, but the whole idea seems unfocused. There's Microsoft products like Xbox and Zune (well, not anymore), the phone and then there's...PCs. Laptops, desktops, but they're not really selling them, well, maybe they are. You can't tell.

    It felt like they were pushing the whole PC "experience" and not just the Microsoft vision of it, which even Microsoft didn't seem they could explain very well.

    For full disclosure, I build my own Windows PCs but have owned more iPods and iPhones than I'd care to admit (every iPhone model from the 3G to the 4S).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The premise of this article is that Microsoft is putting a store right in Apple's face. Microsoft's first store is in the Bellevue Square mall less than 100 feet from the Apple store, so this is nothing new.

    I stop in both stores often to check out the latest. There are some intersting things in the Microsoft store. My iPhone 4 web browser gets very sluggish when displaying complex web pages (mmo champion specifically), as did my three Android phones (AT&T N1, Verizon Droid, Verizon Droid-X). The w

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