Microsoft’s Debut Flagship (NY) Trades on Edutainment
Today, US computing giant Microsoft unveils its first global flagship on a high-end stretch of Fifth Avenue, Manhattan: a store concept conceived to offer a mixture of education and entertainment across five video screen-filled floors.
The 22,369 sq ft megastore, designed by US architecture practice Gensler, sits at the helm of 110 smaller, existing locations spread across the US, Puerto Rico and Canada, offering the brand's full line-up of products, services and devices.
Key exterior architectural features include an ultra-minimal fully glass facade (see also Transparent Architecture), accompanied by a 40ft x 20ft exterior Culture Wall that displays non-commercial artistic digital imagery representative of New York's rich cultural milieu.
Building a community through edutainment – the melding of retail and entertainment with an educational spin – plays an integral part in the store's design. An Answer Desk provides a one-stop-shop for technical troubleshooting and repairs regardless of the type of Microsoft device or where it was purchased, while a Community Theatre provides a space for consumers to be taught in groups, by key experts, how to use the brand's latest or most popular products.
High-definition video walls and digital signage throughout the store stream videos and branded content – the most extreme version being a mammoth two-storey video wall behind the Answer Desk. Customers may also play Xbox games on dedicated video walls enveloped in directional sound (fields of sound able to target a specific area more accurately than traditional speakers).
The store is also the first space where businesses can road-test the Microsoft Surface Hub conferencing system – a device devised for team collaboration, using a multi-touch screen and digital-ink-enabled system that allows numerous participants to connect and contribute remotely.
For more on technology retailing, see: Selling Technology, Tech Boutiques, Connected Home Retail Concepts, Experiential Sonic Pop-up, Intel's In-Store Experience, Sears Micro-Shops Push Smart Homes, Bang & Olufsen: Audio-luxe Retail and Edutainment Retailing.