It seems that Samsung is hot on Apple's heels again. The maker of the Galaxy line of phones and tablets has just announced a partnership with Best Buy to erect more than 1,400 Samsung Experience Shops within Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile stores across the U.S. - most of which will likely be within sight of Best Buy's dedicated Apple counters.
Although Samsung products have been available at Best Buy locations for years, the new shops will be manned by Samsung Experience Consultants who will help inform customers and provide demonstrations on the company's fully bevy of mobile products including smartphones, tablets, laptops, connected cameras and accessories.
In addition, the Smart Service offered at the Experience Shops, according to Samsung, will help customers with basic product services, Samsung account set up, warranty registration and "post purchase support."
"The Apple store-within-a-store is the most profitable square footage of anywhere else in the Best Buy," said Richard Doherty, research director for Envisioneering, a market research group. But he said Samsung's new spaces will be larger than Apple's and that the company's move to secure more space from Best Buy is "preemptive," not reactionary.
"You won't be able to fit TVs on those counters [at the Best Buy Apple displays]," remarked Doherty. He said it's likely that the smart TV battle will soon heat up, and Samsung will have the square footage advantage in Best Buy stores.
Not only does the retail giant currently house the Apple counters, displaying Apple's Macbooks, iMacs, iPads, and iPods, but they've recently taken on a dedicated Google Chrome section in many of their locations. The Chrome displays, offering customers a hands-on look at Google's line of Chromebooks, are manned by a certified Chrome OS specialist.
"Samsung is certainly paying for this, but they hope to make it back," Doherty said. He also said that, like most smartphone makers, Samsung actually make more money selling cases, covers, and other accessories than they do from actual phone sales. With the large real estate Samsung is moving into, we can expect plenty of accessories.
The Experience Shops by Samsung would suggest that the heated competition between the number one (Samsung) and two (Apple) smartphone makers in the world is currently showing no signs of cooling off.
With 900 locations projected for early May, the roll out of Samsung's Experience Shops should be on pace to largely pop up at about the same time as the newest version of their flagship Galaxy S4 phone. Couple this with the speculative, yet widely reported race for the first large market smartwatch, and the 2013 Apple v. Samsung battle should be full of fireworks.
Meanwhile, Best Buy, now starting to look more like a mini-mall, will apparently continue to play nice with everyone during these mobile gadget wars. And why not? The company, which last year said it was in "transition" should be open to new ways to boost sales.