Gratuitous advice for Best Buy: Fear Microsoft too

Best Buy's founder wants to take the retailer private and be more like an Apple store. But it should take a close look at Apple's rival too.

Surface could drive more sales to Microsoft stores.
Surface could drive more sales to Microsoft stores. Microsoft

Best Buy's founder fears Apple Stores. That fear should extend to Microsoft, too.

For better or worse, I live within walking distance of a Best Buy store in Los Angeles. (Well, a long walk).

But I typically elect to drive about 20 miles to the Microsoft Store in Century City.

That should worry Best Buy. Once consumers (I don't think I'm that atypical) get a taste of the Microsoft Store experience, it will be really hard to go back to the muddle that is Best Buy.

Luckily for Best Buy, there aren't many Microsoft stores right now. But that's changing.

And with Microsoft getting set to push Surface tablets via its stores, that could prove to be a turning point.

Let's say Surface turns out to be successful and consumers begin to associate cool Windows products with Microsoft Stores.

And, meanwhile, Microsoft continues to open more outlets in prime locations near Apple stores. (The Microsoft store in Los Angeles is right around the corner from an Apple store.)

That could relegate Best Buy to an electronics retailer backwater -- and realize founder Richard Schulze's worst fears (i.e., going out of business). Yeah, it could still sell big-screen TVs before the day of reckoning, but that alone is not going to pay the bills.

Schulze is right to be very worried. And his existential anxieties will only increase in the coming months.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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