updated 05:50 pm EST, Thu November 18, 2010
Microsoft Bellevue store opens by promising Cyrus
Microsoft today opened its first retail store in home territory through controversial means with an unveiling in the Bellevue Square Mall. Early reports had about 1,000 line up for the event, which saw CEO Steve Ballmer cut the ribbon, but the company once again used the strategy of holding a teen-focused concert to lure an audience into the store. The first 2,000 to enter the store received two free tickets to a Miley Cyrus concert due Saturday, triggering queues the day before that otherwise wouldn't have existed.
Multiple line visitors interviewed by the Seattle Times admitted having lined up solely to get the tickets. In one case, nearly a whole family arrived in hopes of getting 10 tickets. Some resulted in sales or expected repeat business, but a video (below) from TechFlash from its story on the opening revealed that some of the queue included preteen and teen girls that rarely appear at computer store events.
"We're mostly here for the tickets," Esther Erd told the Times. "I'm thinking of buying an iPad for Christmas."
Earlier store openings have given away tickets for Justin Bieber and other pop stars that could bring in both children and their parents. Microsoft has been criticized for the approach in the past as it artificially inflates the perceived interest in an attempt to recreate the enthusiasm of largely sincere lineups surrounding Apple stores.
Without such help, such as during the Kinect and Windows Phone 7 introductions, Microsoft has had relatively little attention. Kinect lineups were large, but usually at chain stores like Best Buy or GameStop.
The opening is nonetheless important for Microsoft, which is still fighting to reclaim its status in the public eye. It has a vested interest in having a store in Bellevue Square as Apple has had a location in the shopping center since 2004 and has become symbolic of Microsoft's problems capturing MP3 player and phone share. Microsoft's location opened just three stores away.