Robbie Bach, head of the Microsoft Entertainment and Devices Division, which sells many of its products to consumers through retail partners, said the company’s decision to launch its own branded retail stores was more about building brand than volume distribution.
After taking a half-hour of spot-on questions from students gathered at Microsoft for the company’s Minority Student Day this morning, Bach sat down with me, Joe Tartakoff of the Seattle P-I and Todd Bishop of TechFlash.
Q: Can you give us your thoughts on moving into retail? You guys have a lot of important partners, especially who resell products from your [Entertainment and Devices Division]…
Bach: “The way you have to put this in context is you have to think of it as just a natural evolution of what’s going on in the market and it’s a natural evolution of what’s going on as we develop our brand.
“And I don’t think — I saw some of the commentary that this was designed to be the same as Apple or whatever. You should think about it, I think, quite differently.
“Apple’s approach was about distribution. People forget that when they entered their stores [in 2001], this was quite a while ago, they didn’t have distribution for Macintoshes, so they created their own distribution.
“We have plenty of distribution. These stores for us are about building our connection to customers, about building our brand presence and about reaching out and understanding what works and what improves the selling experience.
“So Apple you would think of as a volume distribution play. You should think of ours as much more of a brand and customer relationship investment more than anything else.”
Read what Bach had to say about the next two generations of Windows Mobile here.