The experience was fun and, I think, fruitful enough to repeat this year.
In some of the 2012 articles, I asked readers to send in pictures of the scene at the local Apple Store in their neck of the woods.
This prompted quite a few pictures of mostly packed Apple retail outlets for the holidays (see, e.g., Apple Stores Packed Over Holiday Weekend: Your Twitter Pictures, from December 24, 2012) and some spontaneous creativity poking fun at the abject state of physical commerce at Microsoft (MSFT) (see Is Your Local Microsoft Store Empty This Weekend, also from December 24, 2012).
You really need to click the Microsoft story, if only to gawk at the classic -- and very real -- image of a MSFT employee standing around, yawning in aimless boredom during what should have been the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
Anyhow, when you're out on the streets and at the malls, drop by an Apple Store (or Microsoft or even Intel (INTC) Experience Store) and Tweet some pictures to my Twitter (TWTR) account: @Rocco_TheStreet.
This exercise can help provide anecdotal evidence into what's happening out there this year. I'll create a new article and update it as many times as demand warrants through the New Year (even when I'm on vacation!). Together we'll research!
Not that I expect it to be all that different from the way it went down last year. You still have a whole slew of "others" battling for what amounts to impossible opportunity against Apple, namely in the mobile device space.
Not much as changed since Dec. 17, 2012, when I wrote Microsoft's Retail Strategy Absolutely Stinks.
Though, Herb Greenberg, who I led the above-linked article off with, joined TheStreet. That's even better news than Steve Ballmer "stepping down" as CEO of Microsoft.
It's interesting, I included a Tweet from Herb, where he wondered aloud why third-party retailers have the power to discount Apple products. That led to me latching onto a theme I hope Apple's new SVP of Retail, Angela Ahrendts, has on her radar. With any luck, she'll have the situation satisfactorily rectified by this time 2014, if not sooner.
In any event, anecdote doesn't make a complete bull or bear case on a company or stock, but it's undoubtedly a key part of one. I take an academic perspective on judging companies and stocks. And, in academia, there's nothing better -- or more rigorous -- than mixing various forms of qualitative and quantitative research.
Call it stock market ethnography.
--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.