Microsoft has definitely changed its business practices during the past few years, and there are two excellent reflections of that fact. The first is the Microsoft Surface tablet; Microsoft's first foray into the world of PC hardware without a company such as Dell's branding. The second example is the chain of Microsoft Stores the company has begun to open across North America. Currently the stores are located only in the United States though there is one store planned for Canada already, and it would be unusual if there are not more in the pipeline as well. The new Microsoft Store is to be located in Yorkdale; a large shopping centre in the city of Toronto, Ontario.
Yorkdale has been around since 1964, and Apple already have one of their Apple Stores at the location. The Yorkdale Apple Store has been open since May 2005, and Microsoft's Store being located nearby is sure to cause some interesting friction between the two companies. Microsoft already have 25 retail outlets across the United States, with six of them in the state of California alone. After the announcement of the Microsoft Surface tablet on Tuesday it was then discovered that the tablet would be sold only through Microsoft's own retailers, including the Microsoft Stores. For this reason the Microsoft Store in Yorkdale may be one of the few places where consumers can experience the Surface tablet.
Vice President of Shopper Marketing with DDB Canada, Jason Dubroy, is not sure whether Microsoft's expansion will be a guaranteed hit. He was quoted to have said the following, when asked about his thoughts on the company's movement into Canadian retail.
“They will need to be able to differentiate their experience proposition quickly… or they won’t see the sales-per-square-foot traction they will need to justify expansion.”
Microsoft is going to have its work cut out for it, trying to push for more branches of its own retail arm and ensuring they all succeed. The number of Microsoft Stores is always increasing, and from this it should indicate profit being made by them. The choice to sell the Microsoft Surface tablet through a relatively limited number of retailers shows their faith in their product's selling power, though by the time it is on sale more stores that will stock it could have opened worldwide. Microsoft are working on adding a UK based store to their portfolio, so it is hardly surprising that the company also wants to expand its operation into Canada.
Parallels with Apple Stores around the world are inevitable, and there have been plenty of these comparisons since Microsoft stepped into retail in 2009. By this point Apple Stores had been around for eight years, so the Cupertino-based giant had a great deal more experience with managing this segment of its business. Even so, Microsoft has managed to expand rapidly into the same sector of the market. The stores may not have the same reputation as Apple's Stores but as long as they can be profitable they may well continue to expand globally.
Source: The Star