June 10, 2010
Today's a big day in suburban Colorado. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) is coming to town, opening a new front in its well-publicized retail war with Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) .
I'm here, surveying the event and somewhat lengthy line, which appears to be comprised of as many fans of Disney Channel's Demi Lovato as Microsoft technology. Why? The first 1,000 shoppers get tickets to a Lovato performance on Saturday at the Park Meadows Mall, where Apple and now Microsoft both have retail operations.
For investors, the big question is how Microsoft's store compares. I'll be honest; I don't see a huge difference. Both are clean, open spaces, built to get customers playing with technology. Sony (NYSE: SNE ) and Nintendo may have a lot more to fear; the gaming section gives shoppers the chance to scratch their Xbox itch.
Dell (Nasdaq: DELL ) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) , meanwhile, could benefit from setup and support options for customizing their PCs in-store. The goal: Help customers get started out of the box and blunt what has long been an Apple advantage.
But that's just my initial read. We won't know what customers think till the cash registers start ringing. I'll be back to report on that tomorrow.