Recent developments and rumors about Microsoft indeed give us strong hints about Microsoft’s changing priorities in its business model and marketing strategy.
Microsoft Retail stores to be increased – inspired by Apple stores ?
Microsoft seems to be planning to sell its branded products directly from its retail stores. Though it already has some retail stores (23 in the US) which sell software and hardware (Windows PCs, Xbox etc.) , Microsoft is making steps to start its stores in 30 new locations by the end of 2012.
Is the Apple Retail store profitability the inspiration behind Microsoft setting up so many stores?
As a trial run for the new retail stores to be started, it is going to put up “ pop-up “ holiday stores across the United States and Canada. Microsoft has also announced the store locations officially.
Surface tablet announced by Microsoft is going to be available from October 26th, 2012 – same day as Windows 8 OS commercial availability. And these holiday stores are intended to cash in on the demand Surface tablet is likely to have.
Reason behind the Retail stores
It is a known fact that Apple stores are the most profitable retail outlets in the US. So, if Microsoft can set up an efficient distribution channel with its retail outlets, it too can possibly have profitable retail outlets in addition to having successful products.
Microsoft to make phones too ?
There are quite some rumors about Microsoft planning to make its Surface phones too running the Windows Phone OS.
As BGR puts it
Microsoft’s smartphone will launch under the “Surface” brand and it will become available in the first half of 2013.
If this were to be true, then the Windows Phone 8 devices being launched this holiday season by Nokia (Lumia series), HTC (8X and 8S), Samsung (Ativ S) would be trial runs for the main series of smartphones to be introduced by Microsoft.
Eventually the Surface phones could be correcting all the bugs being reported on these phones !! What a strategy !
Is Microsoft phone a good idea ?
Microsoft is not new to hardware business. Xbox is one good example for this. (Wikipedia page for Microsoft Hardware)
If Microsoft makes its own phone, it can stand as a benchmark for other devices running Windows Phone OS – just like Nexus series smartphones from Google.
And if you are concerned if Microsoft can really make a good piece of hardware - Take a look at how neat is the finish of the surface tablet – proves that Microsoft is next to none in terms of designing something (be it hardware or software).
As Techradar says in a review of Surface tablet :
The magnesium alloy chassis is covered with a soft coating that feels durable and expensive (that's the vapor deposition bit; it's chemically bonded rather than just painted on).
With the brand value Microsoft has all it needs is a good combination of hardware and software to prove it successful in its change of business model and strategy.
Lets hope Apple gets a really tough competitor !