#apple stores

Samit Sarkar:

Sony is planning to close 20 of the 31 extant Sony Store locations in the U.S. by the end of the year, the company announced today.

Wait, there are still Sony Stores? 31 of them?!

But seriously, how crazy is it that in an age where Apple Stores are thriving more than any other consumer retail stores — period — Sony, which was the frontrunner in this regard, has totally failed.

It just shows once again that the only thing that matters is the product. Sony used to make great products, and the stores thrived. Lately, it has largely been stuff no one wants and well…

Matthew Yglesias recently visited a local mall in Arlington, Virginia. There, he found a jam-packed Apple Store and an empty Microsoft Store. His conclusion:

Of course Microsoft operated for many years as a fantastic company without any retail stores at all, so it’s not as if the failure to build successful stores is the problem per se. The real issue is that there’s nothing wrong with the store. It’s a great place to shop. Much better than the Apple Store, really, because the Apple Store is crowded, and it’s a little hard to get an employee’s attention. At the Microsoft Store you get a very pleasant physical environment and a helpful staff. It’s just that nobody wants to buy their stuff.

It’s still a very profitable company thanks to its enormous strengths in the enterprise market. But enterprises are made of people. If nobody wants to buy Microsoft’s stuff, that will trickle up into the enterprise.

I’m sure the diehards are already attacking Yglesias and explaining the fallacy of his logic here. I’m sure those people think they’re right. The only problem: they’re not, Yglesias is. Time will prove it.

[via John Gruber]

Ian Sherr and Joann S. Lublin:

To be sure, Apple Store sales continue to be the envy of other retailers. It raked in $5,971 per square foot in 2012, up 17% from the $5,098 per square foot the year before, according to retail consultancy Customer Growth Partners. By comparison, Tiffany & Co. had sales of $3,453 per square foot in 2012, and popular yoga-clothes retailer Lululemon Athletica Inc. pulled in $2,464 per square foot last year.

An entire article about how Apple Stores are losing their luster — complete with a paragraph that undercuts the entire argument one-third of the way through. Even in a typically weak quarter for the stores, Apple was far ahead of Tiffany’s. Tiffany’s!

But the insane growth is stalling. I guess Apple should start selling barrels of crude oil in their stores. That’s about the only way to combat the law of large numbers at this point in order to win back the tech press. And clearly, diamonds won’t be enough.

Emil Protalinski:

Microsoft today announced a strategic partnership with Best Buy and Future Shop. The company plans to build Windows Stores in 500 Best Buy locations across the US and more than 100 Best Buy and Future Shop locations in Canada, launching from late June through September.

Seriously, what year is this? I don’t think it’s 2006, when Apple kicked off its Best Buy partnership because the retailer was kicking ass. I thought it was 2013 and Best Buy is decaying.

Microsoft probably should have done a deal to get into Apple Stores. That’s where the customers are.

WSJ:

India still erects hurdles. Apple hasn’t been able to open its trademark stores because of requirements that foreign retailers purchase 30% of the value of India sales from domestic suppliers—unmanageable in a country with virtually no electronics manufacturing.

Had no idea this was a rule. Hard to see a way in which Apple can overcome this.

Jordan Crook reports that Sony COO Phil Molyneux unveiled Sony’s new retail strategy at a press conference this morning. Wait for it… Sony Stores! As Crook notes, the strategy is basically “follow Apple’s lead”.

But I’m confused, wasn’t this also their old retail strategy? It sure sounds like they’re basically doing the same things they were doing with the Sony Style stores but holding a press conference to say the strategy is new because it didn’t work the first time around.

The real problem — which I’m not sure either Sony or Microsoft really understand — is that simply building stores which look like Apple Stores isn’t enough. It’s the Apple products in them that make them successful.

Apple’s strategy with the stores worked because they knew they had the best products, they just had a hard time conveying that with the existing retail channels. The products quite literally sell themselves, they just needed the most efficient and effective way to get them in peoples’ hands.

At the same time, they realized there was a huge opportunity for competent human beings (who don’t work on commission) to usher users into this brave new world of computing everywhere.

It was the perfect one-two punch. That’s the Apple Store. 

But if you open a Apple-like store and your products just aren’t very good, guess what happens? The opposite of success. 

Think of it this way: if you opened the nicest looking store in the world that sold bags of shit, would it be successful?

Focus on the products first, not the stores.