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Regardless of what I wrote last week, which focused on Apple's problems coming out of the Red Hat event, Apple is on a roll. It's expected to gain substantial share this quarter because Snow Leopard will make it into the quarter and Windows 7 won't. However, in October, Microsoft is planning to come back with a rush, and next year will bring its not-so-secret weapon: the Apple-targeting Microsoft store. If you buy one through one of them, it will turn the PC experience into something vastly more similar to an Apple experience -- and that will likely mean open conflict.
As usual, Rob oversimplifies things by relying on the same faulty logic he has used for years. He cites no statistics or research to support his silly, shallow and flat-out wrong conclusions. One of his most consistent errors is assuming that Apple and Microsoft have remotely the same business model, or even sell the same widgets. Based on that assumption alone, none of his conclusions hold up, from Apple being "overpriced", to Apple's success being due to its marketing, to Microsoft's stores being in direct competition with Apple's. Even if you assume Microsoft can execute a strategy around retail stores (which I personally doubt, given it's inability to do anything competent these past few years), buying a Windows-based PC at a Microsoft Store isn't going to begin to "...turn the PC experience into something vastly more similar to an Apple experience". Rob cannot admit that Apple's products are successful because they are designed and engineered to be compelling and easy to use. This is just more drivel from a wholly-incompetent pundit.
The Apple stores will be full and the Microsoft stores will be empty. Not in the first week of course, there will be loads of Microsoft approved videos of queues of happy Microsoft punters waiting for the store to open. Because that is what the Apple fans do for free. So Microsoft will have some of that as "publicity". But then when the customers actually figure out that the stores have very little in terms of actual products to sell the visiting numbers will wane rapidly. Microsoft will make claims that their stores are "experiential" but the visitors will do all the experiencing pretty quickly and move on.
So what we will get is a huge fanfare from Microsoft, a new logo, and then it will eventually recede to a nothing thing, I give 'em about 18 months before they decide to pull the plug.
You may be right, however I can recall some of my peers saying the same thing when Apple went into retail. Microsoft has Apple as an example while Apple had to build their concept nearly from scratch.
Initially I actually think increased traffic may benefit both by drawing more to the co-located stores. Long term, and without Steve Jobs, price will likely be much more difficult for Apple to overcome.
We'll see though, at the moment the Apple stores are real and executing very well and the Microsoft stores are vapor. I still wonder if Microsoft will do what they will need to do to win here, I think they can, but can and will are often distinctly different words.