Microsoft Jumps into Retail – Opening Stores

February 13, 2009

(ChattahBox) — On Thursday, Microsoft confirmed long-rumored plans to launch retail stores, a move underscoring the challenges the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant faces in the way it reaches consumers.

“The purpose of opening these stores is to create deeper engagement with consumers and continue to learn firsthand about what they want and how they buy,” Microsoft said in a statement.  Analyts believe the beleaguered current state of the electronics retailing industry likely prompted Microsoft into the decision to launch its own chain now.

The Redmond, Wash., said it hired a former Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executive  David Porter, to help the company open its own retail stores, a strategy shift that borrows from the playbook of rival Apple Inc.

In a statement, Microsoft said the first priority of Mr. Porter, who is also a 25-year veteran of Wal-Mart, will be to define where to place the Microsoft stores and when to open them. A Microsoft spokesman said the company’s current plans are for a “small number” of stores.

It remains to be seen whether the effort can add some pizzazz to Microsoft’s unfashionable image, which Apple has sought to reinforce with ads that mock its competitor. Mr. Porter, in a statement, said there are “tremendous opportunities” for Microsoft to create a “world-class shopping experience” for the company’s customers.

While Microsoft owns the world’s largest and most profitable software franchises in Windows and Office and has a successful consumer electronics product in the Xbox console, it has stumbled in recent years with consumer- facing products like the Zune music player, which have failed to make significant traction against Apple’s iPod.


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