What is good about having a lot of cash and time to develop your products? Well, you have the chance to copy a successful companies business model, in almost all aspects, to find your niche and compete on a high level. New products only remain new for a short amount of time. The barriers to entry diminish quickly in the tech space, and quality + service are what needs to be mastered to win your user base. Another key to maintaining your user base, is keeping your product suite collective.
From all aspects, it seems that Microsoft is copying Apple on business plans over the last 5 years, although with the ability to produce at an accelerated pace due to the proven model. Let me tell a little story, one you may have heard from me many times before. Apple experimented and began it’s massive build out through their iPod device, which was launched in 2001. With the tremendous amounts of sales of the iPod, Apple built the cash needed to evolve their device into what we now know as the iPhone. This was just released in 2007, which is really only 5 – 6 years old today.
In 2006, the Microsoft Zune was released. Everybody back then literally just laughed as competition would be almost impossible, but maybe we just did not see the bigger picture. The release and experimentation of the Zune is what laid the foundation for what today’s Metro UI, live tiles, and interface really are today. This work with the Zune plays part into what Windows 8 looks like and how it is so tightly integrated with mobile devices.
In 2009, the Microsoft Store was introduced and today has 32 available around the world. This past weekend, I noticed that the Microsoft Store was incredibly more popular than the Apple store at the Tyson’s Corner Center in Virginia. They have XBox’s with Kinect’s outside of the store in the walkways that gathered people. They have digital screens surrounding the entire store. When you enter, you see phones, then when you go deeper, there are multiple Surface devices, and even multiple 3rd party devices… even Acer’s that look exactly like Macbook Pro’s. Even further in, you see huge digital screens with XBox’s everywhere. It’s pretty wild. But you know what, it looks exactly like an Apple store. There are no check out lines, representatives are everywhere. And you know what, I was approached by 5 or 6 reps who could have sold me something, where at the Apple store, I would have had to wait for someone to become available. Are people not buying? or are they well stocked with staff?
In 2010, Windows Phone is introduced as a major UI revision of all prior Windows phones. This helped and aided by the Zune experimentation and provides a quality and very interesting new UI that people have not seen before.
In 2012, Windows Surface now matches size, dimensions, and feel of the Android and iPad tablets out there. In addition, you can run Windows when you need too. The devices are slick, feel good. The covers as keyboards feel good. I was very impressed by the device, but the Operating System has some issues. It can be confusing at first and training is needed.
Walking through this new Microsoft store, I was reminded so much of how Apple stores are laid out. They are identical. I was reminded of how Apple had their iPod, then their iPhone and how Microsoft reinvented their mobile side with the release of the Zune, which seemed doomed to fail, while somehow discovering a completely new UI that is now their Windows Phone and Windows 8 Operating System. The model works, Microsoft copied it… and a couple of stores down, it looked like Sony was also copying their model.