My Microsoft store and Windows phone experience

Why you may ask? Why was I at a Microsoft store buying a Windows phone yesterday.

Because that’s what my son wanted to replace his broken iPhone. Interesting huh? Why not replace with another iPhone? “Because they smash all the time dad” and they’re “not really that cool”.

On the cracked screen deal I completely understand. I wonder how much money Apple makes each year from broken iPhones or that damn warranty that they try to sell you. I think in my house we have now had 8 Apple devices (iPhone, iPod, iPad) with broken screens. And my son (who had to pay half for his replacement phone), lasted less than a week with his last iPhone before it was cracked (he continued to use it for months after cracking it until it completely stopped working).

But suddenly the parent is trying to persuade the cool kid to get an iPhone….I wonder….is this the reason for Apple’s stock decline? Because their products are middle of the road now?

“But what about your music” I asked him (he listens to music a lot). “I have Spotify dad, I never use ITunes”. Ahh….interesting….Spotify allows people to escape from the Apple ecosystem….I’d never really thought about that.

Anyhow, the Microsoft store is right opposite the Apple store (Valley Fair for locals) and looks exactly the same. Could not really tell them apart. But inside was a slightly different experience.

The folks working at the store didn’t appear to know how to sell me a phone. It certainly seemed like it was their first experience doing so and they seemed almost surprised when we wanted to buy the phone. My experience was pleasant enough because they went to get a manager who knew how to do it and all was done very quickly and smoothly. They then took my son through a quick demonstration and overview of the features of the phone; got his accounts plugged in and we were on our way (not before buying the $99 warranty though….it does not look as though it will break as easily, but this is my 12 year old son we’re talking about).

So, what of the phone….well I have to say I was impressed. The form factor looked and felt really good (it was an HTC something model), the user interface looked really good and I found myself looking down at my iPhone 5 and thinking that it was very “last generation”. The Windows phone looked and felt better.

Now comes the real test. Already there are some apps that are still “under development” from third parties, I’ve got to figure out how to turn the GPS tracking on in case he loses it and…..will it get smashed?

My summary is (1) the products look better, made my iPhone feel old (2) they need to improve the store experience. I want to feel like I’m in the right place…the “hot” place to be (3) My son loves the fact that it can be connected with his XBox. (Is the XBox Microsoft’s secret weapon that Apple don’t have an answer for?)

If I were Microsoft, I would hire a ton of “secret shoppers” to make the store look busy (it was pretty empty) and ensure that the staff can deal with all situations but also…..let’s try a couple of new ideas for the store…..you can’t only emulate the Apple stores….you’ve got to throw in something special.

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