| | 12-17-2012, 05:10 PM #1
I dropped by the Best Buy store in Tacoma, WA last night. I was actually shopping for a game for a Christmas gift, but decided to see how the Windows 8 devices were doing. The selection of touch screen devices was much better than it was at this same store the day after launch. There were a lot of people exploring the notebooks and all-in-ones and they were clearly enjoying the experience of swiping the Start Screen back and forth, watching the live tiles and opening an app. I noticed that people quickly figured out how to get back to the Start Screen if they had opened a Metro app or had navigated to the desktop. I'd say most used the physical button on the device to do this, but I also saw people use the Charms and the Windows key on the keyboard. It clearly wasn't as hard for these average customers as it apparently is for some tech bloggers. Most of these customers were exploring on their own, unaccompanied by a Best Buy employee. I helped one customer myself as he was tapping increasingly hard on the screen of some HP all-in-one that for reasons which explain HP's problems, didn't have a touch screen.
My concern increased when I moved to the display of the Surface. First, Best Buy was offering the nice Asus Windows RT tablet with a free keyboard dock. This is a nice Surface RT competitor, and with the dock becomes more of a laptop than the Surface is with its Touch or Type Covers. The Asus and the Surface were selling for the same price. They had them displayed on opposite sides of the same display counter so you couldn't really compare them side by side. The employee who approached me while I played with the Asus, pointed out the free keyboard dock deal and mentioned the Asus was the same price with the dock as the Surface. He then added "but they are both kind of expensive." He then pointed out they were selling a "nice" 13 inch "real" laptop with a touch screen for a lot less than the $599 Surface. I replied "well the Surface is supposed to work as both a tablet and a laptop, isn't it?" My response was obviously an indication that I probably knew more about some of these devices than he did, because I got a funny look and a grunt of "I suppose" and he quickly moved away.
The Surface display area was nicely done (and there was an even better looking second Surface display in the mobile section of the store) and there were some people checking out the display models who indiciated they had heard of the devices. No one purchsed a Surface while I was there, but no one purchased an iPad while I was there either, so by the standards of some analysts, I guess both devices are tanking. But the difference is the guys at Best Buy selling the iPads don't try to steer a customer to a "nice" "real" laptop instead of buying the tablet. Microsoft, your retail partner needs your assistance. Now!