by Ryan MacInnis
Cross-posted with permission from DigitalDisruption.com
Over the weekend I made an effort to evade the New England cold and pop into the mall to do some pre-holiday shopping. As I walked past the Apple store, I saw exactly what I had expected: an array iPhone 5C's and 5S's in the window, illuminated by glowing lights that formed a snowflake.
I expected nothing less from the brand that truly integrates content, community and commerce. Delivering this integrated experience is what makes the Apple Store work so well. The products, the Genius Bar and their ability to help you with a purchase wherever you are in the store, makes the brand experience that much better.
After watching Apple control the smartphone, tablet and laptop markets with its visionary innovation, Microsoft has a rebuttal.
As I walked past the Apple store and the Apple fanboy in me calmed down, I came across the Microsoft store roughly a stone's throw away. Inside the super-crowded store, I found tablets, smartphones and gaming consoles on display for customers to use and interact with. There was also virtual wallpaper, massive television screens and employees all dressed in the same yellow t-shirt. The new Xbox One was being used by a bunch of kids that were in a reclining chair as they lunged and swayed with the motorcycle they were controlling. I knew Microsoft has revamped their digital marketing strategy which included opening a store on eBay, but seeing the store come to life during the holiday shopping season was truly something special.
Does this sound familiar? If you're nodding your head smiling, I know what you're thinking because it was exactly what I was thinking: Microsoft's response to beat Apple is to be Apple.
Now I'm not sure what the stats will be after the holidays regarding the impact of this imitation, but one thing is certain: Microsoft has finally realized that creating the next great digital shopping experience is what will take their brand to the next level -- even if the next digital experience they are creating is Apple's.