Samsung Experience Store Opening – how it happened

All times AEST

1820: That’s it folks – shows over – we hoped you’ve enjoyed all the action. Claire and I will be back tomorrow with more from the opening. In the meantime, enjoy this sterling rendition of the Samsung company song:

1817: Merchant transactional update: the store accepts MasterCard and Visa, including the outstanding tap-and-go PayWave and PassPass services that are becoming so popular.

1814: Staff at the store will wear blue collared shirts and black slacks. They are not as cool as Apple Store geniuses. Actually, the Samsung/Apple comparison is a misnomer, as this store is much more similar to a Telsta or Optus store. Furthermore, traditional retailers such as JB and Harvey Norman should cease any worry about the incursion immediately: the only ones with the potential to suffer are the telcos, and because Samsung has turned the tables, and is now selling their product (that is, network access), they shouldn’t too much either. Samsung appears to have got the business model just about right here.

1809: Patrick back again: The Galaxy Note 10.1 is RRP $589. Here’s a quote taken straight from the press release:

The new Galaxy Note 10.1 is designed to deliver a custom suite of productivity and creative tools, enabling Australians to exercise their creativity using the multi-screen technology and S Pen functionality. Packed with a 1.4GHz quad-core processor and 2GB RAM for exceptional performance, the Galaxy Note 10.1 is equipped with almost the precision of a pen in one sleek, versatile device.

Wow – that’s a lot of adjectives.

The new Galaxy Note 10.1.

1804: It’s Claire again. I must say the whole store is very slick (with plenty of on-brand-blue to calm the senses) and a strong “Galaxy” message – it’s even plastered across the back wall under the Samsung logo. A few others here tonight observed that perhaps such a high concept store could utilise couches for watching the televisions, and perhaps a few more relaxed areas to experience the products could be good. But this is still ultimately a retail store.

Interestingly, speaking of retail stores, Arno Lenior (mentioned below) says that the store is not designed to compete against Samsung’s retail partners (with Myer sharing a wall and Dick Smith right across the road, this is particularly pertinent). What are your thoughts?

1752: Tyler has described tonight as an “historic moment in Samsung Australia’s history”. It’s a nice store, but it’s no trip to the footy with Bing Lee

1748: For no other reason than because I mentioned it earlier (and it’s about to disappear forever), here are some C.Reilly supplied photos of the Galaxy SIII Cake (captured on a Galaxy SIII, no less):

Galaxy Cake…

…and a Galaxy Knife!

1745 KEYNOTE SPEECH

Tyler McGee wants us to use the hashtag #SamsungExperienceStore – UnderCurrent would have a field day with that. Samsung has sold over 10 million Galaxy S IIIs, apparently.

McGee is going large on the store being focused on showcasing how Samsung devices can interact and complement each other. “Throwing content”, “sharing”, “experience” – he just described it as a convergence showroom…

There’s a App Zone, which includes a low-shelf section for entertaining kids – “it’s an exciting time,” claims McGee…

The store will have specially trained, expert staff – the word “Genius” has not been mentioned…

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 will go on sale at the Experience Centre, and JB Hi-Fi stores, tomorrow at 8am. It will be the 16GB Wi-Fi only model, with a 3G model due in the uncertain future…

1736: As to whether the store will sell Samsung’s myriad appliance range, an insider tells me no. The most you’ll see of an appliance in here is a NaviBot S cleaning up after hours.

1730: Claire has popped over to tell me that this is the Galaxy Beam – it’s RRP $579 outright and runs off Android 2.3. It’s a smartphone with in-built projector, by the way.

UnderCurrent with a caption here: if you think this image is poor, remember it was taken on a Galaxy SIII…

1725: Product range update: there are TVs, digital cameras, personal computers and cordless phones. I never knew Samsung had such an enormous range of accessories…

Non sequitor food update: there are oysters.

1720: Here’s a nice photo:

(from left) Samsung mobile boss Tyler McGee, PR boss Richard Noble, AV/TV genius Evan Manolis and former South Sydney Rabbitohs player Steve Fenech.

1716: Samsung mobile devices supremo Tyler McGee has explained the telco situation: The Samsung Experience Store has partnered with all three major telcos (Optus, Telstra, Vodafone) and can sell phones on plans with all of them in the store. Consumers can also buy outright and then pick up a SIM Card in-store to immediately start surfing.

1714: Claire has disappeared to get a crab sandwich – so it’s Patrick back in the chair – the one question I get asked more than any other is ‘what food is served at events?’ Tonight we have duck pancakes, sushi rolls and something vegetarian. Beer is Endeavour 2011 Reserve Pale Ale, while there’s also champagne, red and white wine and orange juice.

1706: Claire Reilly here. I just had a chat to Arno Lenior, Samsung’s corporate marketing manager about the store and what it would bring to consumers.

“It’s a great opportunity for consumers to come in, play with the products and have a look,” said Lenior. “We know that if people touch and feel and play with the products, they love them. So what better way to way to show them.”

Lenior said that the store would mostly be selling Samsung’s telecommunications story, focusing on smartphones and tablets, but that it would also promote the “convergence” message, particularly how telco products connect and work with other Samsung products such as smart televisions. Lenior also confirmed that Samsung would be selling direct from the store.

“Yes we will be selling direct. You can buy the phones and the tablets outright, or if you have a Telstra plan you can go to the Telstra table, if you have an Optus plan you can go to the Optus table.”

1702: Samsung products on show: many, many smartphones and tablets; a large range of accessories, including Belkin, Otter, Lexar, Jawbone and Plantronics. No appliances in sight.

1656: So there are lots of Wi-Fi networks inside the store, with names such as “samsung”, “demo-tables” and “di-it”. These all are asking for pesky passwords, though Samsung’s internal PR honcho, the lovely Richard Noble, has given me a password. He’s chasing up whether the store will have free Wi-Fi for me now…and success: the Samsung Experience Store will have free Wi-Fi!

1454: Overheard: “Is there free Wi-Fi here? Because the Apple store has Wi-Fi.” Actually, that was me.

1645: I’m now sitting on a ledge outside the Samsung store. Some very serious looking security guards, complete with Kevin Keegan-esque headphones, are patrolling the doors. For those interested, across the road, the QVB is still adorned with the giant James Magnussen poster that UnderCurrent was mocking during the Olympics.

The Apple Retail Store, as viewed from the Samsung Experience Centre.

A look inside the Samsung store. I think that large white phone-like device is actually a cake.

A very big Samsung fan (presumably) refusing to read the sign that says it’s opening to the public tomorrow.

1446: I have received a blithe reminder email from Samsung’s PR army:

“We can’t wait to see you there to celebrate this momentous occasion,” says the soldier. The feeling is mutual.

1330: PREVIEW

Samsung will be launching its new “Experience Store” tonight in Sydney.

Appliance Retailer will there from just before 5pm providing live coverage of the opening, complete with pictures and (maybe) video. We’ll also hear from the boss of Samsung Australia’s tablet and mobile phone division, Tyler McGee, who is hosting the event.

Join us later today to find out exactly what it’s all about – in the meantime, here is my theory on what will be available at the store:

It’s interesting that Tyler McGee will be leading this presentation, as the choice of the telco marketer to take centre stage, ahead of, for example, Samsung’s corporate marketing director Arno Lenior. This implies that Samsung’s new store will be heavily focused on the company’s wildly successful Galaxy smartphone range and its nascent Galaxy Tab units.

Samsung markets electronics and appliances for every room in the house, with leading technology across its laundry, cooking, refrigeration, air conditioning and floorcare divisions. By focusing primarily – or exclusively – on smartphones and tablets within this store, Samsung could allay the concerns of its traditional retail partners, who would be very hesitant about such a popular brand selling directly.

One product that surely must be on show is the new Samsung 75-inch Series 9 TV, launched last week. I would also posit that the NaviBot S robot vacuum will be involved somehow, though that could be the extent of Samsung’s appliance offering.

When I asked Samsung for an advance chat to discuss the store, the Korean Demilitarized Zone of PR responded with the following:

“Regarding the brand store, Samsung is not doing anything media wise around this until the Wednesday.”

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