iTWire wrote about the Sydney store in April and received a one-on-one update today. Let’s just say that even though Microsoft has 112 stores in the US and Canada they are looking closely at this store as the model for further expansion in both Australia and other markets.
Jonathan has been with Microsoft for about three years – the first store was opened in Scottsdale about six years ago around the time of the Windows 7 launch. His main concern is that Aussies are different and he wants to ensure the selection and experience is tailored for the local community.
“For example we will showcase both Microsoft and partner products. The Store is an opportunity for people to engage with the Microsoft ecosystem,” he said.
“If someone comes in and wants to install Office 365 on their iPad we will do it for them – usually without a labour charge. Our Answer Desks are there to help with many of the services being free,” he said.
Microsoft has a tradition with its new stores to make the opening a gala affair. “We typcially give away between A$1-2 million dollars of software to community groups. We want to strengthen our ties to the community by making the store available for community use,” he said.
"Our role is to offer choice, unique value, and services that support all Microsoft users regardless of where they buy devices” he said.
In terms of choice Microsoft will curate a collection of the best of breed, or best of range, computing devices from HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer, Toshiba and more. “These Signature devices will be loaded with Windows 10 – no user interfaces, no ‘bloatware’ – just a pure Windows experience,” he said.
In term of value the Store offers highly trained staff that don’t rely on commissions or let incentives influence their recommendations. “You can be sure that what the Store recommends is the best to suit your needs and we will cover from the sub $300 two-in-one (he mentions HP’s Stream 11) right up to high end gaming PCs,” he said.
In terms of service it is all about understanding the entire ecosystem and recommending the right products – be they iOS, Android or Windows 10 mobile. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says - the new Microsoft is mobile first, cloud first and that is not device dependent.
I drew the inevitable comparison to Apple Stores and the Genius Bars – and that Apple and Microsoft have long been bitter enemies. Apple have a philosophy and style, and Microsoft has a philosophy and are developing a new style under CEO Satya Nadella. Both ecosystems need the support of the manufacturer.
Interestingly Bill Gates really helped Steve Jobs by investing $150 million dollars in 1997. Steve Jobs at the time famously quipped that ‘We have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose.’ Microsoft sold its shares in 2003 – the investment was never about money but about Bill Gates helping a friend in need. Similarly over $2 billion comes from Android patent fees so the better companies like Samsung do the more it helps Microsoft. Nadella was quick to release things like Office, Skype, Outlook for Android and iOS and has over 70 Microsoft apps on the Google Play Store.
Senior staff have been hired and some 50-75 staff will be needed. The link for prospective Microsoft ‘Retail learning specialists’ to apply is here.
Not much more to say except that Microsoft is large enough to have a direct public face and we wish it well.