Microsoft Taps Former Apple Retail Real Estate Exec for Microsoft Stores

| News

Microsoft is borrowing (another) page from Apple by tapping George Blankenship to consult with the company to help develop its fleet of Microsoft retail stores. Mr. Blankenship served as Apple's chief real estate executive, and he was responsible for scouting and developing the prime retail spaces Apple choose for its initial Apple Store locations.

Mr. Blankenship himself was tapped by Apple from The Gap, Inc., where he had worked for Apple board member and former Gap CEO Millard Drexler. Apple was thought to model its early Apple Stores on The Gap's retail approach, with the help, in part, of Mr. Blankenship's experience.

According to TechFlash, which first broke the story, Mr. Blankenship will not be a full time employee for Big Redmond, but rather a consultant.

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner, a former Wal-Mart executive, revealed only last week that his company would be placing at least some of its Microsoft Stores right next or in close proximity to Apple's own retail stores, an effort that has been no doubt assisted by Mr. Blankenship.

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Comments

jbruni

This is funny. With all Microsoft’s money and power they have to hire the one same guy as Apple to figure out where to put the stores?

I wonder how long the brain drain has been going on at Microsoft? Perhaps there is no one left with any real skill.

rd24dec

This is bound to fail.  There are many chains that already sell Microsoft products.  When Apple opened their stores there were hardly any stores that knew their products and how to display/sell them. If Microsoft is successful, it will take sales away from retailers that support them. This is a boneheaded move

tbone1

This is funny. With all Microsoft?s money and power they have to hire the one same guy as Apple to figure out where to put the stores?

No, it makes some sense. It’s common to hire someone involved with a successful project/program because they have experience, they have knowledge of what was done right and what was done wrong, and it helps you get up to speed quicker. That being said, the way that things are compartmentalized and specialized, you can’t get 100% of the knowledge. It helps, but it’s not everything. (It’s also why so many companies have non-compete clauses.) IIRC, Apple hired someone from The Gap to help them with their stores when they were getting into retail.

At the same time, I don’t think this is going to be successful for MicroSoft. Apple needed the stores because the sales channels weren’t really working, they needed to get their products in front of the public, they could encourage people to continue writing software for OS X (remember the “if you ship it, we’ll sell it” comment from Jobs when the stores were announced?), they could later push iPods and their accessories, it provided a place to hold classes on iMovie and iPhoto, it gave support for customers with questions and/or issues, people had a chance to try out OS X and the hardware, etc. Apple needed the stores because the sales channel did a poor job of all these things.

None of these things work for MicroSoft. They don’t sell their own computers; that opens up all sorts of issues about who they’ll stock, which models they can push, etc. People don’t need to be familiar with Windows. Maybe with the latest version, but people know Windows. Microsoft sells to businesses as their primary channel, and their business partners do a good job pushing MS. They can’t stock all the software available for Windows. If they stock all the XBox stuff, they’ll anger other channel partners who may push Sony and Nintendo in retaliation. Zune is such a no-show and compares poorly to the iPod that it won’t draw people in and would only underscore how inferior it is. Their smartphone platform doesn’t run on MS hardware and isn’t a showcase product compared to what Apple, RIM, and Palm are doing. Windows 7 might get a small boost, but consumers upgrade Windows when they buy a new box; businesses when their software/hardware suppliers are ready to support it (after an additional validation period). Servers don’t make sense, because it’s the hardware issue again, and people interested in servers are going to be better served by other channels.

Maybe they have something up their sleeve, but ... I dunno.

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