A tale of two stores


Last night, I visited the Amazon store at Bellevue Square and then the Microsoft store.

The Amazon store was small and ridiculously crowded. But the Alexa and Echo devices were prominently displayed. Probably at least 10 different devices with integration skills displayed with Philips Hue lights. But consumers were interacting with them.

At the Microsoft store there were two Invoke devices relegated to a tiny display in a no-man’s area of the store. Wedged in between some other displays. Of course the Surface devices were prominently featured at the front of the store. But so were all of the crappy cheap laptops. Why on earth wasn’t the Invoke given a prominent table on the right-hand side of the store?

I had to actually ask an employee where on earth the Invoke’s were and his reply of surprise told me I was the first to ask.

Disheartening to say the least. Microsoft can’t play the consumer game worth beans.

Sure, the Invoke sounded better. But I’m seriously considering returning my Invoke as it’s almost guaranteed this thing if going to be killed off. They can’t even market this thing in their own stores.

Comments (15)

15 responses to “A tale of two stores”

  1. Paul Thurrott

    Well, that is depressing.

    On the upside, you can pay with cash at a Microsoft Store. Amazon doesn't take cash.

  2. GT Tecolotecreek

    It's not that they can't play the consumer game, they have to commit to it. The whole MS Store feels and looks like a knee jerk reaction to the Apple Stores. (They have them so we have to have them) Apple went all in on their store initiative, ignored the doubters and ended up with the most successful retail operation per Sq./Ft. MS does not have the patience to build a retail success and the stores will be gone in two years except in Seattle.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to GT_Tecolotecreek:

      Apple either already had people who knew retail and did a great job on store layout/design, or they hired new people who did a great job. MSFT seems not to have the former and not to accept needing the latter. IOW, I don't think it's patience, rather MSFT is too cheap to hire people who understand retail.

      • GT Tecolotecreek

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        The patience refers to sticking to it when it doesn't immediately doesn't start making money. Their is a ramp up period. Agree with your other points as Apple went outside for retail experts.

  3. sentinel6671

    This makes me think of my local shopping centres, where there is an Apple store and a Microsoft store. Consistently, the Apple store is always vibrant with a community feel and the Microsoft store has no one with the employees milling around trying to look busy.

    I wonder why Microsoft bothers.

  4. jimchamplin

    The Microsoft Store here in Austin is surprisingly competitive. Sure, it isn’t standing room only, but when I’m looking to drop hundreds of bucks on something, a quiet experience is definitely superior to having four strangers up in my face.

    I went to look at the Apple Watch last year and the guy literally had to shout to be heard over the din in the place. I wasn’t able to hear the quality of the speaker on the watch at all.

    I agree with points made about Microsoft’s fickleness, impatience, and cheapness, since those traits are exactly why it’s hard to get behind any big push of theirs. I’d love an Invoke, but are they going to unceremoniously drop it in nine months? Who knows. Will there be other products that can form a full home solution? Small pucks like the Dot? Big centerpiece speakers like the Home Max? Again, no idea.

    I’ll say it this way, one of the biggest differences in Microsoft and their two main competitors is communication. When Tim Cook or Hair Force One goes on stage at an Apple event, it’s all marketing, you know that, but at a Microsoft event it’s all so cringeworthy. The contrast between the two iS vast. Microsoft seems to be run by PR undergrads who insist on their shitty ad copy being read verbatim at a multi million dollar event.

    That at difference in communication trickles down through the organization to where the whole place seems like it’s run by Capposella’s interns.

    • Locust Infested Orchard Inc.

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      I'm in total agreement with your sentiments, such that I cannot bring any further value to this conversation.

      Also for those who are unaware, the reference to "Hair Force One" is Apple's Craig Federighi. Does Tim Cook still refer to him as "Superman" ?

  5. yaddamaster

    and the whole thing doesn't help when in a WSJ article on smart-speakers that Microsoft isn't even mentioned. Not even once.

  6. Tony Barrett

    As I've previously said, Invoke will disappear inside of 6 months. Nobody's asking for it, nobody's even talking about it, and certainly nobody's buying it. MS couldn't market a product if Nadella's bonus depended on it.