The first of the new-look HMVs has opened in Merry Hill, and The Guardian has been down for a look.
Curiously, Simon Fox, who has overseen the flipcharts and market surveys which has led up to this moment, used to be in charge of Comet, and he's brought with him everything he learned making shopping there such a dispirting experience - genuinely, who can tell the difference between a Comet and a Currys? Who really enjoys traipsing through them?
So, you get a dash of the coffee shop from Neighbours:
That'll certainly bring people in - after all, Apple Stores in the US had to block MySpace because its shops were getting overwhelmed with people updating their MySpaces and not buying - but will that lead to sales, or is HMV investing in providing enormous youth clubs?
So, you go in to town, fight your way through kids sipping smoothies and... can order your album to be sent to your house. And go home and wait for it. Why, exactly, would you bother to go into town to do this? You could hear the tracks online at home, order it, and wait. HMV, clearly, need to bring people into stores, but simply by adding a stage of 'going into town and going to a store' into the process of purchasing online isn't going to work.
Unless HMV is aiming squarely at people who don't have access to the internet elsewhere - not, we'd have thought, the same market who would be supping smoothies and stalking social networking sites.
Twenty million pounds? That's very, very serious money. I suspect they'd be better off spending it on a wider range of stock.
[Thanks to James P]