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A few days ago, I had to go to the Stanford Shopping Center to visit the Apple genius bar (one of my household's many Macs was having a complex network issue). The Apple store at Stanford is one of their "mini" stores, much smaller than the typical Apple outlet, and it was, as usual, packed shoulder-to-shoulder with people. It was bustling.

When I was done being geniused, I left the store and noticed, just two doors down, a new store I had never seen in my life. It was the Microsoft store. It was absolutely gorgeous. It was easily ten times the size of the Apple store, and it was packed with fantastic-looking displays and kiosks, largely featuring Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface. It also had a dozen fresh-faced young people in Microsoft t-shirts, eager to help customers.

Which, by the way, is precisely what was missing.

The entire dozen fresh faces were staring forlornly out into the open air of the mall. I recognize Palo Alto is enemy territory for Microsoft, but still………..it was shockingly barren, particularly considering just fifty feet away was the Apple store that could barely squeeze another soul inside.

I guess the company's recent performance echos this reality.


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