Both of these pictures were taken at the same time at the Galleria shopping mall in Houston. The picture on the left is the Microsoft Store and the Apple Store is on the right.
Microsoft Store - no customers and the only people in the store were staff talking to each other. The Apple Store had approximately 30-35 customers in the store when I took this picture. It was bustling with activity.
Why do we see such a difference?
First, Apple has positioned itself as a luxury brand and customers have bought into that positioning. Their products are cool and we like to be seen using their products. Going to the Apple store is fun and we get to see, touch and experience the new Apple products. Plus they have people to help you. Scott Galloway talks about this powerful brand positioning in his great book, "The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google" and why Apple's retail stores are so successful.
On the other hand, Microsoft is not a luxury brand. They do not have cool hardware products like Apple, with one exception - Xbox. Microsoft has grown up as an Enterprise software brand and their revenue distribution shows it.
So, why is Microsoft trying to compete by positioning their brand against Apple? I don't know. I think this is a losing proposition and I would not be surprised to see the Microsoft Stores begin to close over the next year or so.
BTW, the two pictures I took...The two stores were separated by about 50 feet (there was a store in between them).
What can we learn from this? Make sure that when comparing your brand or products to a competitor that you are positioning your brand appropriately. Are you a premium brand? If so, why? Be able to answer that question with confidence.