Last year Microsoft decided to compete with Apple in the retail market. One of the very first Microsoft retail stores was open in Scottsdale, AZ. Visiting the store I was surprised with how much it resembles the Apple stores. Ok, it's not really news that Apple "inspires" Microsoft for many years.
When Microsoft announced it would be opening retail stores, we sort of expected them to somehow follow Apple's success recipe: clean and lean stores, ample spaces, well-trained employess, a local one-on-one support center and a collection of accessories and software for its products, all in one single place. But I think Microsoft is gone too far in this case. The Microsoft stores are not only inspired by Apple stores. They have the same look and feel of the Apple stores.
It's true that the logos and the colors are slightly different, but anyone used to the layout of any Apple store will not have problems to find what is looking for at the Microsoft stores, with the products and areas located exactly as they are at the Apple stores.
Still during 2009 other blogs and websites (click here to visit one of them) reported that Microsoft was offering higher wages than Apple to Apple retail stores employess willing to "change to the other side of the force". The strategy seems to be working. Below some pictures comparing the Apple store in Chandler, AZ with the Microsoft one in Scottsdale, AZ.
Apple store entrance in Chandler, AZ. Click to enlarge.
Microsoft store entrance in Scottsdale, AZ. Click to enlarge.
Inside the Apple store. Click to enlarge.
Inside the Microsoft store. Different colors, but the same tables. Click to enlarge.
"Genius bar" for local support at the Apple store. Click to enlarge.
"Guru bar" on the back at the Microsoft store. A kind employee asked me to not take pictures too close to it to "protect the other customers privacy". Click to enlarge.
Accessories section at the Apple store. Click to enlarge.
Accessories section at the Microsoft store. Click to enlarge.
A panel at the Apple store celebrating the millions of applications at the Apple store. Click to enlarge.
A similar panel at the Microsoft store, representing the millions of applications for Windows. Click to enlarge.
Nothing wrong in copying a good idea, but I think new ideas, concepts, products and real competition adds more to the world.