Microsoft’s first flagship store outside North America opened today in Sydney, Australia, with distinct Apple-esque flair and mayhem. Perhaps this is no coincidence given Microsoft hired Apple’s former Sydney Senior Retail Leader, Nick Wells to run the new store.
Hundreds lined Sydney’s fashionable Pitt Street Mall from Wednesday night, and all morning, trying to get a glimpse of the inside of the store, while a DJ played tunes and Microsoft helpers handed out bottles of water to those lining up.
Just 200 metres from Apple’s Sydney flagship store on George Street, wedged between Zara, Sephora and H&M, Microsoft in Sydney found itself a fashionable home.
The store spreads over two levels and 550 square metres, offering a flash city retail space – it even has a Genius Bar, ahem, ‘Answer Desk’ where you can schedule free one-on-one appointments with an expert who can give personal recommendation on which products and services are right for you, and provide training and service for existing products.
Given the plethora of devices that run Microsoft operating system and software, the Answer Desk will be a blessing to many as it will provide a one-stop shop for technical issues, troubleshooting and service for Microsoft hardware, software and services, regardless of the brand of the device or where it was purchased. Other than hardware replacement or repair, the services will be generally free of charge, including the removal of viruses and other malicious software. Not sure how small businesses who currently provide such services, often charging around $150-200, will feel about this, but consumers who can make it into the city will be happy.
As for the product range, in addition to Microsoft products and services, the store will also offer a selected range from third-parties such as Bose, Dell and Lenovo.
The new store is designed to be the centrepiece of the Microsoft experience in Australia, offering ‘cutting-edge retail and experiential spaces that allow consumers to get hands on with products in an immersive way.’
Admittedly, I’m often described as an Apple fanboy as everything I do is done on a MacBook, iPad or iPhone.
But, I’m also scientifically minded, and always open to be presented with hard evidence that other technology products would work better for me. For this reason I respect that Microsoft, the sleeping giant of the technology industry, has now been awakened from its slumber by Apple’s runaway success over the past decade. A little bit of competition is always a good thing – a lot of competition is even better.
But this will be much more than a store. It will embody the world class innovation that you have come to expect from Microsoft and be a space where consumers – from teens who love gaming to parents who want to ensure their families are safe online, to small business owners looking for guidance – can visit and learn how to make the most of their technology, so they can make the most of every moment.
All eyes on Australia: First Microsoft flagship store in Asia Pacific lands in Sydney, Microsoft News Centre (21 April 2015)
And Microsoft truly means the immersive experience – unusually, and arguably bravely, for a technology store of this kind, nothing is tethered to the tables (for now) and you can pick up and experience everything naturally.
The line outside Microsoft’s new Sydney flagship store on opening day