Why Microsoft needs to open a Microsoft Store in Australia
Microsoft Store’s are starting to come alive all over the United States of America, with their latest tally now at 14 store’s across the United States. That of course pales next to Apple’s 300 plus stores around the USA, but it’s still very much a start. I can understand the need to slowly open stores across your country first, but my suggestion is different. While they are very much looking at opening store number 15 in the states, they should be looking at opening up a store overseas. This would allow Microsoft to better get their name out there and give more people the chance to test all their products under one roof, as opposed to going to multiple stores to currently see everything Microsoft based. Apple probably has more stores in Australia than Microsoft do in the USA, so that’s a reason to start thinking outside the box. Who knows, perhaps more stores might have even saved the Zune HD. Perhaps.
The other day I walked past the Apple store in Doncaster Westfield, Melbourne and I was in awe of how many people were actually in the store at the same time. It was packed! Such is the influence of a store with lots of gadget, white paint, and lot’s of glass. If Microsoft can emulate that (and for all intense purposes they already are in the States), then it’ll be a good platform for them.
Why Australia you might be asking? Well apart from the fact I live in this beautiful country, one thing to note is that Australian consumers are very hungry for the latest tech gadgets. Australians have the world’s second highest Smartphone Penetration in the world. As of September 2011, 37% of Australians own a smartphones. Furthermore, Australian’s are on the Internet the same amount via our phones and our PC’s. This is the highest in the world according to the SMH, and it’s only going to get bigger from now on.
Australia is Android and Apple (iOS by default) territory, and if Microsoft want’s to make any inroads in Australia with the gorgeous Windows Phone 7 OS, then they’re going to need to start to show commitment within Australia, starting with a Microsoft Store.
Where in Australia?
Australia has 5 major cities that Microsoft could consider, but in all reality only Sydney and Melbourne would be worth it for Microsoft to open their first overseas store in. They’re the two biggest cities and the two best in Melbourne and Sydney (arguably of course). Let’s face it, either would be a great choice for a Microsoft Store, but we’re going to have to point to Melbourne as the best city for the first Microsoft Store in Australia.
Why you might ask? Let’s list them off:
- Melbourne was just recently voted the ‘Worlds most Liveable City’
- Melbourne is the Food, Sporting and Music Capital of Australia
- Melbourne is apparently also the Fashion Capital of Australia? (not sure about this one though, just got told)
- Australia’s biggest Shopping Centre (Mall) is in Melbourne
- It’s just better, sorry Sydney
Couldn’t think of a more perfect place for Microsoft to set up shop. Speaking of which, there are quite a few good places Microsoft could setup a store. We would think the perfect location would be Chadstone Shopping Centre, which like we already mentioned, is the biggest mall in Australia, and it’s also considered one of the classier shopping venues in Melbourne. And let’s not forget that Apple also has a store located inside Chadstone Shopping Centre (or Chaddy as we call it locally). Be a great place to set one up and go head to head with the big boys from Cupertino.
The great thing about Microsoft is that they have their hand in a lot of commercial products. Immagine if they had all those products in one store so people could visit and try and use, as opposed to finding each store separately! Let’s break down the products to have:
Xbox 360 and Kinect ‘Gaming Arena’
Well this one’s clearly an obvious thing to put in a Microsoft Store. It’s one of Microsoft most popular products, and everyone has heard of it. You put in a few of these plus a Kinect (which is the fastest selling peripheral ever) and put it up as an interactive game area and you’ve got a winning combination there. People will come in just for gaming to waste time, end up being seduced by all the other gadgets in the store and possibly end up leaving with something or another. All the newest games should be here and people can spend an eternity playing games in a Microsoft Store.
Of course with gaming and crowds, people will follow suite. That’s the entire idea of the Xbox 360 Interactive Game Area, or Game (Gaming) Arena as I’d like to call it. Because of the sheer number of people using this and wanting to play on it, Microsoft might end up selling lot’s of these consoles.
Windows Phone 7 ‘Phone Zone’
Microsoft’s new Windows Phone platform would be one of the most important areas in the Microsoft area, if not the most important. A lot is riding on this fresh new OS, and unless Microsoft makes people aware of this product in Australia, people won’t really adapt it due to other companies not really advertising it. If you walk into any Phone carrier now, you’ll see one or two Windows Phone surrounded by a table of Android Phones. With their own store Microsoft can display only their phones and allow people not to get distracted by other devices around them. Furthermore, the staff can teach consumers all about the new OS, and they can possibly buy it right there and then should they be interested. There is no better way for Microsoft to advertise Windows Phone 7 than in their own stores where people will actually know how to use it and be able to help anyone with any problems (unlike staff who work for Phone Carriers who STILL seem to call it Windows 7 phone. It’s Windows Phone 7!). Plus what better way to get people used to the new Metro UI. People should also know with the release of Mango, Windows Phones have caught up with their competition and even surpassed them in some aspects.
Microsoft has a lot of ground to catchup on Android and iOS, especially in Australia where 80% would be split between those two Operating Systems. It’s also got a lot of work to change people’s perception that it’s not the same OS it was with Windows Mobile. The Phone Zone could be critical in how they display it in the store, because it’s Microsoft’s worst selling product right now, but it’s got the most riding on it. A HANDFUL of Gen 2 devices should also be there (or Gen 3 when it’s their turn).
Also as a bonus, Windows Phone users should be able to add an app to their phones so Microsoft Store employees can track you and assist you right away. Pretty unique to make it happen.
Windows 7 ‘Booth’
I think this one is the most obvious choice of them all. Windows 7 is the latest OS for PC’s from Microsoft and is also their most popular Operating System currently. After the Vista fiasco, Microsoft made good with Windows 7 and therefore have managed to create a huge market segment with this, where 85% of newly manufactured PC’s come with Windows 7 preloaded. Add too that, over 400 million copies of Windows 7 have been sold, a staggering amount by any way you look at it. If Microsoft can display the latest PC’s that come with Windows 7, it’ll be great for the consumer to see all the computers in action. Computers like the Asus Zenbook or even an Alienware m18x would be a great addition unlike any other store in Australia.
As well, it would give Microsoft a chance to showcase the very best of the premium computers and the budget computers, unlike retailers which showcase a mix of good computers, and some that we wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole. Of course, with Windows 7 they could also showcase their best software (Lync, Microsoft Office, Sharepoint, etc.). An area to showcase the best software from Microsoft with the best software from the giant from Redmond.
Bing is Microsoft’s answer to Google. Bing is a Search Engine that has been slowly gaining popularity around the world (mainly in the USA), but it’s still relatively disliked and/or unused in Australia. Plus it seems quite a lot of people have never even heard of Bing here, so what better way to promote Bing than in an Australian Microsoft Store! Those of you who have used Bing might realize that Bing brought quite a few things to you that Google didn’t have (like the ability to see a summary of the website without clicking on it) and it seems to search much faster (before instant search came along). The Bing Australia website (and others) also feature either beautiful pictures on the home screen that change daily, or a small video of something taking place. Head over the the Bing Australia website to see for yourselves.
Bing also deals with other facilities such as Deals (pun intended), Maps, Videos, etc. It would be great if Microsoft improved their mapping service as gMaps is still much better, but apart from that it’s solid enough to get a good user base in Australia if people are made aware of it.
Windows 8 ‘Discovery’
Windows 8 is coming out next year and people are really excited for the brand new Metro UI look to the desktop. It’s a bold new step in the right direction for Microsoft who have taken their foot off the pedal in recent years, and are making a big statement – Look out, we’re back. It’s what we want from the worlds largest software maker, and they’ve finally got products people want and love to use. With Windows 8 coming out next year, the time is right to start educating people about it, and getting them used to it. One of the main reasons we felt the Windows Phone platform hasn’t really taken off (apart from poor and/or lack of advertising from Microsoft) is that the Metro UI look on Windows Phones is so different that people don’t want to use it. Once they understand that Windows 8 will look like the picture above, and even the new Xbox Dashboard out in a few days will take on the Metro UI ‘Tiles’ look, perhaps people will finally start to make the move to Windows Phone. Therefore, we feel it is important to make more people aware of Windows 8, despite it being a good 7 months or so away from launch.
I recently worked for Asus promoting some of their products last week, and I spoke to hundreds of people over the 5 days and one thing that really surprised me in a big way, was how much people were actually looking forward to Windows 8. The fact that non nerds and geeks knew about an upcoming release from Microsoft was surprising and heartening at the same time. The point of the matter is that Windows 8 is completely different to anything found on a PC or Tablet today, and people are looking forward to that change. My point is that if people are willing to come up to me and ask me about Windows 8, and add to that they know it’s a new tile based interface then Microsoft is heading in the right direction.
There are of course other things Microsoft can promote, but they need to focus on the biggest assets they have (or biggest could/should be assets) and make sure they get the world out. A store like this, based in Australia could certainly change people’s perception toward Microsoft in a good way, and in doing so they will have got one foot through in trying to conquer the Australian Market. The best thing for Microsoft right now is to change the negative perception all their products have in Australia right now, because that is really hurting product sales and usage right now, especially of Windows Phone and Bing.
To top it all of, Microsoft need to find some way to tie in all their products together in this store and show people that everything is interconnected to each other, from Windows Phone to Windows 7/8 to Xbox 360’s, it’s just one big synergy chain of products that people can use in their everyday life.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article and feel free to comment below if you disagree or want to add a suggestion. Also feel free to bring this to the attention of Microsoft (thanks!) and let’s get that Australian Store Opened!
Also, for a different (but very similar) Perspective to Why Microsoft needs to open a Microsoft Store in Australia (more from a Business Angle), please checkout this link at OzTechNews, written by our friend Aaron Holesgrove. Onus on you now Microsoft!