Microsoft opened its first Australian flagship store today at Sydney’s Pitt Street mall, only the second “flagship” store in the world (the first opened in New York City a couple of weeks ago). Some of the team from Total Synergy were invited along to a pre-launch visit a couple of days ago. Here’s what we found…
THE MICROSOFT FLAGSHIP STORE
The obvious comparison everyone makes is to an Apple store. But if you think about it, an Apple store is simply a premium technology retail experience , which is what Microsoft has created on Pitt St, just a little smaller.
There’s lots of focus on the new hardware, as you’d expect. The brand new Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 both feature prominently – both of which are available to buy in Australia from today – plus there’s everything in between, like the Microsoft Band (fitness watch), Lumia phones, Xbox, the Surface Hub, third party hardware from Dell, HP, and lots of accessories.
It’s not a cram-everything-in retail store, though, more an experience store where touching, feeling and learning are the goals. Office 365 is never far from mind, either, with huge wall screens playing a continual sequence of the new feel-good Microsoft flavours we’re coming to know.
MORE THAN A SHOP
As Microsoft partners, the question for us was whether there’s anything more to this than being a premium Microsoft device shop. So we asked!
The host of the event from Microsoft was director, developer evangelism and experience, Sarah Vaughan. She said there’s quite a lot more to the store, particularly for the business and partner community.
“This is one of only two flagship stores in the world and it’s designed to be so much more than a store”, she said.
“This is a space for people to learn, to explore the latest innovations from Microsoft and our partners, to meet peers, to get expert advice… It’s not just about buying technology, but seeing a whole plethora of technology come to life and how it influences our day-to-day lives.”
From the outside, though – to the casual passer by – it looks like a shop. How can Microsoft partners (like us), their clients and customers (like you) and the broader business user community benefit from the store?
Sarah Vaughan suggested a couple of examples.
“In store we have subject matter experts specialising in small business who can talk to people about how to use the range of technologies to run their business,” she said.
“Or you might be a Microsoft partner who builds apps and IP, some of which we’ll be able to showcase on the various devices. This will include apps and products both commercially available today and being prototyped. We want to help our partners share these with our mutual customers.
“The other thing we’re offering Microsoft partner businesses is to make use of the upstairs space – what we call the community theatre and briefing centre. This is a space where our development partners can bring their software to life for a small audience, or where they can host briefings or showcase events.”
We’ll come back to the new hardware in a future blog once we have our hands on some of it (our guys were pretty impressed with the Surface Book, so it shouldn’t be too long!), but one stand-out piece of kit that could be an extraordinary resource for collaborative design firms, is the Surface Hub. There aren’t many places you can get to play with one of these and Sarah Vaughan thinks the new store provides a unique opportunity to the likes of our AEC design business clients.
“Ideally we would love to showcase the Surface Hub as a collaborative workspace,” she said.
“To eventually show it alongside HoloLens to augment designs and turn them into something people can touch… I can see a future where you could come in with your customers or partners and we could bring that to life in the briefing centre.”
The Microsoft flagship store opens today (12 November 2015) at Westfield Sydney on Pitt Street Mall, 188 Pitt Street, Sydney, NSW.
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