Microsoft started opening retail stores in North America in 2009 and the company is believed to have had enthusiastic plans to match the number of Apple retail outlets. However, it seems CEO Steve Ballmer has been convinced to put plans to match or surpass Apple’s 300 stores on hold.
Business Insider reports that, while Ballmer and Microsoft COO Kevin Turner are both eager to push ahead with plans to build more stores, Redmond is having a hard time making money from them because the merchandise sold in-store is also available at tons of other retailers around the country. This is something many people, including our own readers, highlighted as a possible issue when reports of the first ‘Microsoft Store’ arose. Why would people feel inclined to buy a peripheral or a copy of Windows from the Microsoft Store when it’s just as easy to go to a store like Best Buy or even order online?
Still, that’s not the only reason Microsoft is putting the brakes on store plans. BI reports that the stores have also proved extremely expensive to build and that this, coupled with the difficulty in setting itself apart from other electronics stores, has helped convince Ballmer that backing off is the right move.
Business Insider sources say if the stores start to turn the corner -- or if Microsoft decides it needs a retail front to sell products like Windows Phone 7, which compete for shelf space in places like the AT&T store -- the company may decide to ramp up the number of Microsoft Stores. For now, though, it doesn’t exactly look good.
Microsoft’s first store opened at Fashion Square Mall in Scottsdale, Arizona in October 2009. Employees made headlines shortly after opening for a choreographed dance routine to the Black Eyed Peas’ hit song “I Got a Feeling.”