I have always wondered why Apple ( AAPL) slums it by allowing Walmart ( WMT), Target ( TGT) and Best Buy ( BBY) to sell its premium products at all, let alone at a discount. Amazon.com ( AMZN) makes slightly more sense given its dominant online presence. Plus, despite the media-driven meme of fierce competition between the two companies, I reckon Apple and Amazon have a partnership, even if it's unspoken or merely the result of a Steve Jobs-Jeff Bezos handshake. In any event, it would be most excellent to get your hands on the broken down numbers: Apple product sales at Apple Stores, at Apple.com, at Amazon.com and at Walmart, Target and Best Buy. Good luck getting that data. Apple will never release it. And if a partner did, there would be trouble. That said, I bet the numbers flatter Apple. They would also help explain why Microsoft's ( MSFT) retail strategy stinks. See my article, Apple, Tesla Completely Embarrass Microsoft, for part one on why it stinks. But set aside the fact that Microsoft stores look like competitive spoofs designed by Apple itself. Even if Microsoft did something wholly original from a cosmetic standpoint, its retail strategy would still fail miserably. It's worth paying an extra 5% or whatever to make your iPod, iPhone, iPad or Macbook purchase at an Apple Store. There's something to be said for paying for a trademark experience and excellent customer service before, during and after the sale. People do this; in fact, I'm willing to bet that between physical and online, Apple sells, at minimum, 80% to 90% of its product by itself. Consumers no longer feel intimidated walking into an Apple Store; they feel welcome and, maybe more importantly, cool. Over the weekend, I stopped by Microsoft's "pop-up" store in Times Square. There's nothing . . . good . . . to be said for that experience. Relative to the Apple Store, this Microsoft outlet was void of bodies. At times, it got semi-crowded, however there was no steady flow. Mind you, it occupies a tiny space. Apple could never operate a store that small, pop-up or not, in a random city let alone Midtown Manhattan.
Microsoft released upgrades and products Wednesday including "Surface Studio" for artists. Bill Gates, Microsoft's Co-Founder, appears below with an early computer running the Paint program, the first of its kind.