Microsoft announced yesterday that it’s retail initiative to roll out a number of Microsoft Retail Stores will begin in Scottsdale, Arizona and Mission Viejo, California sometime this fall. The shoopping area chosen in Mission Viejo is already home to an Apple Store while the Scottsdale location is not. According to Microsoft spokeswoman Kim Stocks, the locations were chosen because they’re “hot markets” that serve the demographic Microsoft is seeking to attract.
It will be interesting to see what the Microsoft Stores will ultimately like after a leaked powerpoint from a consulting firm showed artist renderings that heavily mirror, if not blatantly copy, the set up of Apple’s retail stores.
It’s still unclear if Microsoft will use its stores to advertise and sell actual hardware, or if the stores will be set up as “style stores”, a concept that hasn’t been too successful for companies like Nokia and Sony who’ve attempted similar initiatives in the past. Microsoft, though, has said that it’s expecting to turn a profit with its retail stores, so they must be selling some sort of hardware to offset the costs of renting prime retail space. But aside from Xbox’s, what can Microsoft really sell? Zune’s aren’t exactly flying off the shelves, and offering high-margin and expensive PC machines might not be the best idea when consumers will most likely be able to get better deals at outlets like Best Buy.
I guess we’ll find out soon enough.