I Hate to Make Fun of Samsung, but . . .



Samsung is not a pioneer. From the minute they reached these shores, all they have done is copy product and marketing plans from American companies they envy.

This guy Brian X. Chen, who wrote the New York Times story that Samsung is going to give Apple some of its own medicine by setting up mini-stores inside Best Buy across the United States this summer, can’t be serious.

First of all, Best Buy is going out of business. There is no way they can sustain themselves, not even with Samsung’s money. And if Samsung becomes financially responsible for them, they, too, will go out of business.

Electronic stores are passé. No one goes into traditional stores to buy anything anymore. People will shop, price compare, and then go online to the biggest discounter to make their purchases. The term they use for that process is called “show-rooming.”

Traditional retailers are so upset about being used for “show-rooming” purposes that many of them refuse to sell brands that sell to exclusive online retailers.

As I mentioned the other day, there isn’t a consistent top Korean executive at Samsung that is smart enough to know that putting a store within a store is not the same thing as the Apple retail environment. The Apple store is a formula that Steve Jobs created. It cannot be replicated unless you have the right product, the right design, the right sales people, the right inventory, and the right set of groupies that are willing to follow you anywhere.

Who wants to bet me right now that Samsung won’t fall flat on its face? Other than the first week when the departments open, I am predicting this concept will have tumbleweed running through it. Ghost City.

By the way, the geniuses at Samsung probably don’t know it, but they tried this concept already 15 years ago in the Miami branch of Comp USA stores. Back then you had to be pretty pathetic not to succeed because everything was selling off the shelves. Yet they failed big time.

The company knows nothing about retail and is not in the service business. If Apple had to start over again at this point in time, I don’t think even they would do as well as they did.

The Times They Are A-Changin’.

Be Prepared To Lose Your Apps If You Expose Your iPhone, iPod or iPad

It was all over the news yesterday. Apple products are the most desired items to steal in The Big Apple. No more grabbing chains, purses and boobs, now thieves want an Apple. Bloomberg News reported that many of the stolen Apple products are being shipped overseas where they are securing double, triple the price. iPhones, iPods and iPads actually outpaced overall crime with a 40 percent increase over the exact same period last year (Jan 1, 2012 to September 23, 2012). Apple beat out seven major crimes, including murder, rape and robbery which had a four percent rise. This trend is expected to spread to other cities as well, so watch out!

Did this warning scare New Yorkers who travel the subway? Not at all! From what I can see, on my daily trips to work, most people under 50 are still using their smartphones right out in the open. The folks closer to my age however, hold briefcases and handbags close to their chests with their arms wrapped around them. Pretty obvious what is inside. It is funny to see the separation between the younger and older riders.

The most dangerous thing on the subways as far as I’m concerned, are the people who hop on overly-crowded cars with their coffee. Do you know how lethal that is? What are they thinking? The liquids are sloshing around like tidal waves and one day soon they are going to land on someone, or me. Just this morning, I had to duck as one gal slipped when the train suddenly stopped. I could see the liquid through the paper cup just edging to the top ready to spread its wings. Luckily, the gal regained her balance quickly and saved me from screaming at her.

No more coffee on the subways please.

When I learned about the high theft in Apple products, I immediately thought of all those industry analysts on TV yesterday who wanted to make a name for themselves by questioning the health of Apple. Did you hear about the scratches on some of the backs of the iPhone 5’s? Must have been the two year olds they hire for the assembly lines. Did you hear that iPhone 5 owners are unhappy with the new Apple maps? Wrong streets, addresses and tavern locations. I can’t remember a time that Google Maps didn’t take me one or two miles out of the way to get to my destination.

Of course there are going to be glitches. That is what technology is all about. In the last two months, Eliot and I had to lay out $1,200 to repair our Sub Zero Refrigerators in Miami and New York. I think they both agreed to break down at the same time. One had a compressor problem, the other had a fan control malfunction. Service free and parts, about $600 each. Now our Décor gas range in Manhattan is tick, tick, ticking away. We called repair and they told Eliot to clean the ignition flint. I have no idea what a flint is and I don’t want to know.

Yesterday, I had to spend time at the Apple store on 59th and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan because the wireless stopped working on my iPhone 4S. 3G to the rescue. I have been to many Apple stores since their inception. Yesterday was no different. All I could think of was that Best Buy, Circuit City and Sharper Image never had one hour of the masses that are drawn to each and every Apple store, 24/7, 365 days a year.

What is this phenomenon and will it last forever? Can it last forever? It has never happened before. Will it ever happen again?

Please watch the video and catch the circular staircase where people come and go.

An Open Letter To Richard Schulze

Richard Schulze

This is my open letter to Richard Schulze, Founder of Best Buy, the 1,400 public store chain he wants to take private so that he can restore it to the greatness it once was.

Don’t do it Dick. The retail world is changing in ways yet to be defined. Even if it works out that you are somewhat successful, what is the point?

It is not even a question of whether I think you are capable. It is a question of why you would want to spend the next few years of your life trying to reinvent what you started in the first place. You are 71, worth $2 billion, happily married to your second wife, have 10 kids between the two of you and an ever-increasing number of grandchildren.

If you are looking for something really exciting to do, I can introduce you to some of the greatest young minds in the digital world that are inventing new technologies that none of us ever thought possible. They need your business acumen, your marketing prowess and your ability to build a business slow and steady. You have everything they do not. They have the kinds of minds that you need to know better. They will fascinate you about ways they are going to change the world in all types of fields, from everyday technology to transportation to outer space. You are one of a few who can help these young geniuses reach their goals. It will be far more rewarding to be the power behind the cure for hideous diseases, than the developer of a new way Americans buy their electronics.

I have researched all the good work you are doing in philanthropy, education and medicine. I congratulate you, but I am not talking about writing checks. I am talking about becoming a full time counselor to the future Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Jack Dorsey’s, and Mark Zuckerberg’s. There are a few dozen out there that will never make their mark without you.

You have a chance to regain the most rewarding and fruitful years of your life if you just take the time to explore what I am suggesting.

I was there when you and your late wife started Best Buy in 1966. At that time it was called the “Sound of Music Store,” in St. Paul, Minnesota. I was 18 and lucky enough to be working alongside two of the industry’s most devoted editors, Aaron Neretin and Manning Greenberg. We wrote about the growth of your company in the pages of Home Furnishings Daily, day after day, year after year. I saw and felt your sweat. I remember when your wife got sick, how you met wife number two, and how you devoted yourself to an industry that has had nothing but pleasure because of your efforts.

It is time for you to get reinvigorated. You are not going to experience the same euphoria you had the first time by trying to turn Best Buy into the next Apple retail chain. Even Apple is trying to figure out the next steps to maintain their own retail phenomena. I am not going to get too deep into it now, but the guys you are surrounding yourself with to rebuild your baby, are not the new thinkers of tomorrow. If you ever read this blog post, please call me and I will tell you why.

I know too many seasoned professionals who tried to go home again. When they got there, they slowly discovered why they left in the first place. Please open up those big baby blues that make you so distinguishable, and see the opportunity to have a much more important second chapter.