Outside of Samsung itself, the biggest winner in the upcoming release of the revolutionary Galaxy S4 in the coming weeks may be Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY).
The struggling consumer-electronics chain will be housing Samsung Experience Shops inside its superstores, giving the South Korean consumer electronics giant a way to show off its latest phones, tablets, and laptops
AllThingsD‘s Ina Fried checked out one of the six test stores.
This isn’t merely display space at a prominent location within the store. The 450-square feet “store within a store” is staffed by a dedicated Samsung consultant to oversee the operations.
As Samsung gets cooler — and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) sheds some of its swagger — Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) has positioned itself as a beneficiary.
BB&T Capital Markets analyst Anthony Chukumba made the argument in January, raising his rating and price target on Best Buy on the theory that folks will flock back to the superstore chain now that there’s less reason to hit up a dedicated Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) store.
It makes sense in theory, especially now that Samsung has another hit on its hands. You obviously can’t buy an S4 at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), and the coolness equation is pretty simple. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is way cooler than Best Buy, but Best Buy is also way cooler than the stand-alone wireless carrier stores.
The challenge, naturally, is if consumers still crave the in-store experience. Wireless carriers make it all too easy to order online and have smartphones shipped at the same in-store prices. However, waiting for the FedEx truck isn’t always an option for impatient owners after a smartphone gets smashed to bits. There are also plenty of early adopters who enjoy the release date ritual of lining up with other early adopters.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Will Samsung promote these locations? Will they remain popular after the initial S4 buzz passes? Will customers balk after realizing that the S4 costs $50 more than the iPhone 5?
More importantly, will this be too successful? Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Mr. Softy have been able to open their stand-alone stores because of brand recognition; but isn’t it a matter of time before Samsung follows suit? If enough shoppers are flocking to Best Buy for the sake of the Samsung mini-store, it won’t be long before Samsung begins hitting up mall landlords to find selling space.
If Samsung times it just right, it can wait until J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) cans Ron Johnson, the guy who helped Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) introduce its still popular chain before flopping badly in his makeover at the department store chain.
This is about to get interesting.
The article Will Best Buy Get the Last Laugh on Apple? originally appeared on Fool.com.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple.
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