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Will Samsung's Best Buy boutiques match the Apple Store experience?

Will Samsung’s Best Buy boutiques match the Apple Store experience?

Samsung has announced it will set up dedicated mobile shops within Best Buy stores to sell its cell phones, tablets, laptops, and cameras. The Samsung Experience Shops, coming to more than 1,400 Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile stores beginning this month, aim to bring Samsung customers the same expert, brand-immersive experience that iPhone, iPad, and Mac types enjoy when they visit an Apple Store.

Apple’s retail outlets got high marks for customer service in recent Consumer Reports Ratings of places to buy major electronics items (including laptops and cameras). But it appears Samsung stores won’t replicate every aspect of the Apple experience.

Where Apple’s airy temples sprawl over thousands of square feet, the Experience Shops will be no bigger than about 450 feet, Samsung says. And the help you’ll get won’t necessarily be from brand specialists. “Select Best Buy Stores” will have “dedicated Samsung Experience Consultants,” the company says, and the Samsung types will be assisted by Best Buy sales associates—who received only middling scores for customer service in our survey.

It’s also unclear whether the arrival of the Samsung shops will diminish the presence of other brands at Best Buy stores. The retailer’s one-stop array of choices is one of its key attractions, especially in smart phones—where you can compare an unequaled selection of models from a host of brands and carriers, including low-priced no-contract companies.

Still, we’ll be curious to experience the Experience Shops. Samsung says 900 of them will be up and running by early May, with the remaining launching in early summer.

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