Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Microsoft adds to the blur

I posted an item several months ago about the blurring between channels, between manufacturers and retailers, and between both of them and media. Microsoft has apparently decided to jump on the blurwagon by hiring a long-time Walmart exec to head up a retail division:
The move is a sign of the deeper role consumer-technology companies are playing in the retail business, despite the many risks of straying from their traditional businesses of making hardware and software. Apple, of Cupertino, Calif., encountered widespread skepticism when it first began opening its own retail stores in 2001. [...]

At the same time, some large electronics retailers have fallen on hard times amidst the weakening economy. CompUSA Inc. last year closed most of its retail stores, while Circuit City Stores Inc. is in the process of shutting down all of its stores and laying off more than 30,000 employees.
As retailers become their own suppliers through private labeling, and as the number of potential channel partners shrinks through consolidation, it seems inevitable that we will see more suppliers playing retailer.

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