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Samsung takes aim at Apple's Genius Bar with experimental service centers

Samsung's partnership with WeWork resulted in three experimental "care centers," with the chance for more service centers to open in other WeWork locations.

Published onOctober 30, 2017

The back of the Samsung Galaxy S8.

Samsung might have significant mindshare in the US, but the company’s retail presence is pitiful at best with its locations within Best Buy stores. That could change in the foreseeable future, thanks to Samsung’s partnership with WeWork that sees the Korean manufacturer opening three pilot service centers across the US.

Located in Detroit, Miami, and Williamsburg, New York, these “care centers” can give folks technical expertise on how to use their phones and mail away their devices to get fixed if the situation calls for it. While people wait, they can take full advantage of Samsung’s partnership with WeWork by using the space around them to get some work done.

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In other words, if folks want to use a conference room and make phone calls while waiting to get back their Galaxy S8, they are more than welcome to do so, according to Samsung Vice President of design Mick McConnell:

The concept was, if I take time out of my day, at least I can sit in a conference room, make phone calls, and do work, as opposed to sitting in a busy room with a bunch of angry people.

Visually, each care center is situated in a WeWork location and is meant to be a premium meal for the eyes. The main attraction is a Miesian black steel and glass box that contains shared tables and Samsung workstations, with the surrounding area featuring higher-end furnishings and Samsung video conferencing systems.

In designing the space, however, Samsung needed to take care not to alienate existing WeWork subscribers. Rather, the company means to augment what is already there, which could be why Samsung Retail Design project director Danny Orenstein described the care centers as “WeWork spaces on steroids.”

Theoretically, these care centers could lead to new customers and subscribers for Samsung and WeWork, so there’s a good bit of brand synergy going on. The partnership could also further Samsung’s physical presence, since there are 235 WeWork locations as of this writing.

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Keep in mind that there are several obstacles, big and small, to overcome, such as making sure someone who has never visited a WeWork location successfully ventures through the lobby to the care center. Also, the three care centers cannot yet do onsite repairs, so if you visit the spaces with a cracked screen or failed hard drive, do not expect to walk out with a fixed device.

Even so, if Samsung wants to truly go toe-to-toe with Apple, it almost has to have a physical presence. Regardless of what you think of Apple, the company deserves some props for having those Apple Stores as popular as they are. Other companies are well aware of the allure of a physical location – Microsoft has its stores and even Motorola dabbled with a store in Chicago – so it is not surprising to see a company as large as Samsung want to have a similar presence.

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