Envy is a dangerous sin, one of the seven deadly sins in the Christian theology.
But no one seems to have told Microsoft and Google about the pitfalls of envy.
In a span of less than a week, spurred by Apple store envy the two tech giants have laid the groundwork for retail disasters that will eventually cost their shareholders a pretty penny.
A big hit in the U.S., Apple stores let consumers play with the iMac, iPad tablet, iPod touch and iPhone and get all their queries answered without high-pressure sales tactics.
Microsoft and Google have been hampered by the absence of such a direct retail presence and are belatedly forming partnerships to push their products.
Microsoft – Desperation Shows
First, Microsoft announced an agreement last Thursday with consumer electronics chain Best Buy to expand its retail footprint.
The deal, which must surely be costing Microsoft a pile, will create Windows Store enclaves inside 600 Best Buy stores in the U.S. and Canada.
These Windows Stores are supposed to let people play with a bunch of Microsoft devices including those flop Surface tablets and dud Windows phones, PCs and the popular Xbox game console.
There will be a separate a standalone area inside the Windows Store for the Surface tablet.
Microsoft Surface Tablet
Windows stores, which will range in size from 1,500 square feet to 2,200 square feet, are due this summer.
Expect the roll out to be completed by September.
A dominant player in the PC era, Microsoft is struggling to find its feet in the post-PC world.
PC growth is slowing and its Windows phones and the Surface tablets are disasters on an epic scale.
The odds of Microsoft turning the tablet and phone businesses around are slim to none.
Microsoft is late to market and its tablets and phones have found little enthusiasm from both consumers and app developers.
No amount of money that Microsoft throws at tablets and phones will change matters.
The only tablet and smartphone vendors with any consumer traction are Apple, Samsung and Amazon (sells tablets only). The rest including Sony are also-rans.
To compound Microsoft’s woes, its new Windows 8 operating system has hardly been a resounding success.
With PC sales down, Microsoft is desperate to turn its smartphone and tablet ship but it’d take a miracle for that to happen.
Google’s Walmart Move
Google faces a similar daunting retail challenge vis-a-vis Apple.
On Monday, Google announced Walmart and Staples would peddle the Chromebook.
The Chromebook is Google’s albatross, a low-cost notebook that has not attracted much consumer enthusiasm.
Walmart will sell a $199 Acer C7 Chromebook with a 16GB solid state drive at its 2,800 U.S. stores while office supplies chain Staples will offer Chromebooks from HP, Acer and Samsung in its 1,500 stores.
It’s hard to imagine that Walmart will deliver for Google. Of all the retail chains in the U.S., Walmart has the most clueless employees in its tech section.
Google plans to add OfficeDepot, OfficeMax, Fry’s and TigerDirect to its roster of retail partners in the coming months.
Google’s earlier retail partners Best Buy and Amazon will continue to sell Chromebooks.
In addition to the U.S. market, Google is making an international push for Chromebooks, expanding its retail presence in the UK, France, Netherlands, Sweden and Australia.
Google tooted the horn that Chromebooks would now be available in 6,600 stores around the world, triple the number of stores as before.
For the uninitiated, Chromebooks are low-cost notebooks that can be used for the most part only when users are online.
In most cases, there’s limited storage (16GB) on the Chromebook. Keep in mind that a typical desktop has over 1TB of storage and most laptops these days offer over 500GB of storage.
All the apps you use and the storage (Google Drive) for your files are on the Internet.
Chromebooks are based on Chrome OS, which means that the browser functions as an operating system.
But the idea of Chromebooks has not caught on with users and is unlikely to.
Because Google’s essential argument for the Chromebook, which is that users get on the computer only to use the Internet is flawed. People use a variety of apps that are often resident on the local hard-drive (inside Windows or Mac systems).
Plus, in an age of constant NSA snooping, would you really want all your files on the Internet? 😉