Shopping for a new smartphone can be both an exciting and frustrating experience. If you already know what you’re going to buy before you head to a local retail store you’re probably in pretty good shape. But if you’re looking to compare smartphones from several manufacturers or carriers under one roof you’re out of luck.
As Om Malik from GigaOm pointed out in an article today, Best Buy doesn’t bother to put every smartphone on display. Instead of real live smartphones, plastic replica models are put in their place. This might be a good way to cut down on theft, but it’s a horrible shopping experience. Both consumers and salespeople don’t get a chance to thoroughly learn about the devices or take built-in apps for a spin.
Wireless carriers’ stores generally have real live smartphones on hand and relatively well-trained salespeople on staff. But comparing phones and plans from multiple carriers is still a real chore. Best Buy has the opportunity to be a one-stop shop for smartphone shoppers and I hope the powers that be invest in more samples and training. A new smartphone is a major purchasing decision is a big decision for most consumers and they should have a chance to thoroughly check them out prior to signing a long-term contract.
As my father-in-law’s experience pointed out, Apple does a fantastic job in turning dumbphone users into smartphone users. While it’s unlikely to happen in the short term, Om Malik suggests that Google should get more involved to improve the retail experience.