updated 02:35 pm EDT, Wed July 13, 2011
Microsoft vows retail push and big WP7 sales
Microsoft COO Kevin Turner during his presentation at the Worldwide Partners Conference on Wednesday set out ambitious plans both for Microsoft's retail stores and for Windows Phones. With just 11 stores open or near opening today, Microsoft plans to "accelerate" and add 75 more stores through the next two to three years. Some of these will be outside the US, he said.
Most American stores will be concentrated in California, the Northeast, and other major urban areas.
The executive was equally optimistic for Windows Phone sales. Estimates at the company were that it would ship 100 million of the devices a year in the wake of the Nokia deal. Turner didn't say whether he anticipated this from the first Nokia Windows Phones in 2012 or if he saw share building up to that point.
Retail expansion would be unusually brisk for Microsoft and would belie its public claims that its official stores are experiments that it passes on to partners. With 85 stores and in some cases multiple stores in one city, the business would be more comparable to Apple and would be competing with nearby electronics shops rather than complimenting them. Apple currently has over 300 stores, most in the US but with an increasing amount in Europe and elsewhere.
The stores are already consciously designed to imitate Apple's model with bright and open spaces, full demo units, and a Genius Bar-like help desk. When possible, Microsoft has often put its stores in the same shopping malls as Apple's, occasionally within eyesight.
Turner's estimates for Windows Phone also presume both popularity for Windows Phone and sustained interest in Nokia. CEO Steve Ballmer acknowledged that Windows Phone had so far seen no growth in several months despite heavy marketing. Nokia has also seen rapid declines in share and may not necessarily have the presence in smartphones that Microsoft wants.