• Copycat Impact Forces Apple to Invest

    If you look up the word "copycat" in any new dictionary these days, there's a very strong possibility you will see a photo of the first Microsoft Store, which opened late last week in Phoenix, Arizona. To say that Microsoft's new store simply resembles the typical Apple store would be a great understatement, indeed.

    From Tuaw.com:

    As you walk into the store, employees in brightly-colored t-shirts cheer and applaud. The store is spacious, with large wooden tables placed far enough apart that the opening-day crowd, standing on a hardwood floor, isn't packed into the place. At the back of the store is an "Answer Bar," where you can ask questions about the operating system on your computer. No, Apple didn't open a new Apple Store in Scottsdale on the 22nd. Instead, this was the opening of the first Microsoft Store.
    Blatantly "borrowing" the look and feel of the Apple Store concept, Microsoft is even opening their stores near Apple Stores. Consequently, Apple is feeling the pressure to spruce up their own stores and the surrounding areas as quickly as possible. This fallout from Microsoft's new retail run hasn't
    been widely acknowledged, but Apple is beginning to shell out big bucks to touch up their retail presence.

    Look no further than my backyard in Chicago for evidence. From ifoapplestore.com:

    Apple has signed an agreement with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to spend nearly $4 million to refurbish a run-down triangle of land next to its future Halsted Street retail store, including a subway entrance building, the underground train platform and a bus turnaround driveway. The project would be Apple’s most expansive spruce-up to date, and will help bring sparkle to the surrounding shopping district, which developers hope is on the rebound now that Apple is arriving. Structural steel has been erected for the store on Chicago’s north side, and the store could open by fall, 2010.
    Similar examples are turning up at a variety of locations around the country where Microsoft could also break ground very soon.

    The turf war between Microsoft and Apple will be substantial in 2010. With Microsoft endeavoring to hire the former real estate chief at Apple to consult on location planning for stores, and efforts to hire Apple Store managers to run their new retail outlets, Microsoft is attempting to do more than just compete with Apple. Microsoft effectively wants to become the "new Apple."

    Consequently, Apple will have to do more than just invest in new products and software, they will also have to spend heavily to keep pace with the growth, expansion, and upkeep of a competitor's copycat retail chain.

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    Image via Gizmodo
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