Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. However, Samsung wants no talk of its new Sydney, Australia store looking “Apple-esque.” Particularly while the South Korean company is being sued for allegedly imitating Apple’s iPhone and iPad.
Despite the store being located just a block from Apple, using the same Apple minimalism, the same Apple-like packaging and staffed with the same blue-shirted employees, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company “didn’t even come into the equation when we were looking for a location,” Samsung Australia’s vice president of telecommunication, Tyler McGee, tells the Sydney Morning Herald. In the business, we call that a non-denial denial…
This isn’t the first time Samsung has had to defend its unspoken by obvious homage to Apple’s retailing muscle. In July, the Galaxy smartphone and tablet maker opened its first North American store, in Vancouver, Canada. As in Sydney, there were the minimalistic white walls, the blue-shirted employees and the same Apple Store layout.
During its lawsuit with Apple, a number of comments from Samsung executives appear to show the company has a corporate complex with comparing itself to the iPhone maker. In one memo introduced by Apple during the U.S. trial, Samsung’s mobile communications chief, J.K. Shin declares: “let’s make something like the iPhone.” Samsung even reportedly produced a 132-page point-by-point study comparing the iPhone and the first Galaxy S smartphone.
Despite Samsung’s protestations, a tech company would be wrong not to follow Apple’s retailing footsteps. The company’s 373 stores made $16 billion in 2011, forcing electronics makers to rethink their absence from bricks-and-mortar sales. Indeed, electronics retail giant BestBuy hopes to revive its flagging sales figures by introducing an Apple Store like strategy. Verizon Wireless is also among the growing list of retailers taking note of Apple’s success.
But there are limits to copying Apple’s retailing prowess. “I think Samsung will find it more difficult to copy the buzz or excitement that Apple’s stores generate for its customers,” Gary Allen, author of the Apple retailing blog ifoAppleStore explained.
What do you think? What makes the Apple Store retail experience special?