Dell's budget retail kiosks were a flop, put down for mercy. Dell's high-end retail stores, opened in obvious imitation to Apple's retail stores, were just not effective in improving profit on the #1 vendor's commodity hardware. Apparently, "if you build it, they will come" requires dream visions, or a carefully scripted plot, to serve as a recipe for success.
Now, Microsoft is building retail outlets. Rather than conduct research into where Microsoft should place stores in order to realize meaningful impact on its profits, Microsoft is simply sticking the stores up next to Apple's. (Pundits proposed features by which observers might differentiate the companies' stores.) Pricing a half-baked retail strategy into every copy of MS-Windows can't be good for its pricing.
Just when Apple's competitors thought it couldn't get worse, the news comes that Apple's profit can increase even while iPod unit volume drops. Let's hope Apple's competitors got into that retail space at a discount.