Samsung and Apple have been at wits end over their patent disputes with Apple’s claims that the Korean electronics manufacturer and now retailer has been inspired by Apple. Now Apple could add more fuel to that fire. Samsung opened its doors to its first ever North American retail store in Burnaby’s Metropolis in Metrotown, Vancouver. From the video of Samsung’s director of channel sales offering a tour of the store, we can’t help but notice just how much of the store resembles Apple’s own stores.
In comparing the feel and customer service offering between the two stores, you’ll notice the minimalistic and sleek design of the store. The white interior is accented by a light wood finish due to the wooden tables, which collectively gives off an ambiance normally associate with an Apple store. A few differentiators however for Samsung is the metallic accents and rounded corners (particularly of its desks). Apple’s aesthetic emphasizes sharp corners and lines.
While these design details alone doesn’t suffice for us to merit jumping to conclusions, Samsung’s retail store’s similarities with the Apple store is uncanny when you observe the blue sporting customer service representatives and the one-on-one station. There are some similarities evident between the two stores and we wouldn’t be surprised if the designer’s inspiration was the Apple store. But is it a copy? The answer is no. It’s not an exact replica, but it is obviously inspired by Apple’s successful retail chain.
Samsung’s current design is an improvement over the dimly lit, black reflective finish of the Samsung Experience store, which you’ll see above in a photo taken by Jeremiah Owyang in 2010. The store opened in 2006 in New York City’s Time Warner building, but was more of a showcase, as you could not actually purchase products there.
If we were to entertain the idea that Samsung was looking to beat Apple at its own game, the company wouldn’t be the first. In October 2009, Microsoft opened the doors to its first retail store in Scottsdale, Arizona, with a design that was overseen by one of the Apple store designers: he was a consultant. The similarities between the Microsoft store and Apple store are visible. In January, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told BusinessWeek that he had every intention of beating Apple at its own game by placing Microsoft stores as close to every Apple store as possible. “Well, the traffic is going to be there, and we’ve got to beat them any way,” he said.
While Microsoft is facing the pressures of the competition, Samsung has been giving Apple a run for its money. Apple has gone as far as to take preventative measures against Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and Nexus smartphones by threatening retailers with a court-ordered injunction to stop selling Samsung devices.
What are your thoughts on the Samsung store? Should every manufacturer have its own store?