Monday, September 30, 2013

Apple and Microsoft: The retail experience


Microsoft store at the Pentagon City Mall
Two computer stores in the same mall. One had five or six customers, the other was jammed with people. You can probably guess which was rocking and which was chilling.

It was a little before 5 p.m. last Friday when I found myself at the Pentagon City Mall near Washington, D.C. With some time to kill, I was delighted to discover that the mall was home to both an Apple store and the more rare Microsoft store.

I hit the Microsoft store first. It looked familiar. There were big square tables with displays of phones, computers and accessories. Peppy young people in bright t-shirts were answering service questions and putting merchandise in trendy-looking blue logo bags.

Where had I seen all that before?

Maybe it was one floor up at the Apple store. It also had tables displaying phones and computers and it's own cadre of earnest people answering questions, demonstrating products and putting items in white logo bags. Except there were lots more sales people and customers in  the Apple store.

Apple store in the Pentagon City Mall
The Pentagon City Apple store was just like others I've visited in Louisville, Paris, Chicago and London. When have you been in an Apple store that wasn't jammed?

Of course, Apple was just coming off its big fall iPhone announcement. And I wasn't surprised that I to wait my turn to fondle the "unapologetic plastic" case on an iPhone 5C and see if the gold iPhone 5S felt any different than the plain black 5 in my pocket (it didn't).
But Microsoft also has new products to promote, especially the Surface 2 tablet that runs a mobile version of Windows 8. A couple of people were test driving the tablets, but no ones were jostling to get their hands on one. And a nearby table holding different models of Microsoft's phones was completely deserted. Most of the action in the store was in a back corner where a young couple was an Xbox soccer game on a big screen monitor.

That's too bad. I thought the tablet and the phone looks and function very nicely. And the price tags were much more attractive than the ones on the tablets and phones one floor up. But not attractive enough to get me to buy one.

In the end, I left the mall with one new piece of equipment, a charging cable from the Apple store. The best part of that transaction was getting my receipt by email and an agreement from the sales woman that, yes, $19 is an outrageous price to pay for a [pair of plugs and a meter of cable. 


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Follow me on Twitter @ricmanning and read my technology columns at My Well Being.


  1. Apple products are very effective for retailers for security purpose point of view



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