I visited my local shopping center Saturday night. The mall includes an Apple Store and a Microsoft Store. The Apple Store opened a decade ago. It's very sterile -- white everything with Apple products on tables and Geniuses scattered about. There was not a single customer in the store. I chatted with the Genius by the entrance who engaged me on the way past. He said business was good, but it was a slow night. I was not surprised that a computer store was not humming on a Saturday night in February.
As I continued towards the Food Court, I could hear loud music. It was coming from the Microsoft Store. The MS Store is similar to the Apple Store in size and color except that there is an Xbox room in the back, a customer service area in front of that and huge monitors completely covering the perimeter. And it was full of people. Kids in the Xbox room were playing hockey on a huge screen. Dozens of people were playing with laptops and tablets. There were a half dozen people at the service area. One was telling anyone who would listen how bad the Geeks at Best Buy are.
The Microsoft Store was pretty vibrant for a Saturday night in February.
This is, of course, completely anecdotal -- two stores in one mall in one city on one night -- but I think it speaks to the concern that Apple needs to innovate.