Microsoft Corp. announced last week it would open its own retail stores – a move that has come as no surprise, and is not a major concern to the company’s indirect sales partners.
To champion the effort, the software giant has hired Wal-Mart veteran David Porter, who starts Monday as corporate vice president of Retail Stores.
Industry observers and VARs said the move is clearly an attempt to emulate the success Apple Inc. has had with its brand marketing through its branded stores. Observers said it’s a ploy to keep the Microsoft brand top of mind, relevant and cool. Think Zune vs. iPod.
And the home entertainment/small device market is likely the driver and necessity for the retail push, observers said.
If so, the move is expected to put pressure on the office warehouse stores and consumer-focused big box outlets, but not so much on VARs, who tend not to sell into the residential and SOHO markets.
Until the scope of the retail product lines are known, VARs are taking a wait-and-see attitude.
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