George Blankenship, Apple's former Vice President of real estate is now consulting with Microsoft for its retail store strategy. Apple hired Blankenship in 2001 to help it acquire property for its controversial retail store strategy.
The Apple strategy was deemed risky at a time when PC retail stores like Gateway Country were closing their doors. Apple's retail stores broke the mold and have proven wildly successful, selling more per square foot than any other retailer in the world.
Blankenship's location choices are widely considered to be instrumental in the Apple stores' success. Blankenship bucked the trend and chose locations in affluent neighborhoods, instead of focusing on low-end or technlogy-centric shopping areas. His concept was based on the real estate axiom "location, location, location" and he set out to offset high-price leases with volume associated with high-traffic areas.
While it's tempting to label this another example of Microsoft's "start your copiers" strategy, Blankenship maintains that Microsoft won't imitate Apple and that Microsoft's stores will be more about branding, rather than sales. Really? If that's the case, then I wonder why some of the new Microsoft stores might be located near Apple Stores as Microsoft COO Kevin Turner mentioned last week.