So I went to Best Buy to confuse an iPad with a Samsung

Posing as a naive human being (not hard), I went into a Best Buy to see whether it is humanly possible to confuse the two tablets. The experience was instructive.

You just know it's an iPad, right? Josh Lowensohn/CNET

The Apple-Samsung trial has been such a show that it has invaded my head in the same way as the first time I learned dwarf tossing was an entertainment in places like France and Canada.

Could anyone really have wandered into Best Buy and confused a Samsung Galaxy Tab with an iPad, as has been suggested ?

While some began to pulsate at rumors that many, many people had exchanged their Galaxy Tabs for iPads at Best Buy, a study suggested that only 9 percent of people who returned a Samsung product at Best Buy did so in order to exchange it for an iPad.

Even then, that doesn't mean that they thought they'd bought an iPad in the first place. Perhaps they'd just changed their minds.

So, driving back from something very moving today, I saw a Best Buy lurking in the distance and thought I'd wander in.

I decided to be a naive customer. Regular readers will know that this isn't very hard for me.

I wandered into the store and sloped toward a large Apple logo. This was full of laptops but no iPads. A kind Best Buy operative explained that the iPads had their own little display a little further along.

Indeed, there were four or five iPads, pinned to a desk, so that I wouldn't steal them. Or, perhaps, so that I couldn't test how heavy they are. The display was so much more dominant than for any of the other tablets.

I overheard a Best Buy operative talking to a keen customer about the iPad: "Here, we call it the large iPhone," he said, which was curious. She was curious, too. She asked if she could make calls on it.

Still, after I did a little finger-tapping on one of the screens, another blue-shirted man came over and wondered if I had questions. Did I ever. I asked if this iPad was the same as a Samsung Galaxy Tab. When you're naive, you're not going to be subtle.

Oscar -- that wasn't his name (why get him into trouble?) -- told me: "Yes."

"Really?" I replied, a little bemused. "There's no difference?"

"They do the same thing," Oscar clarified.

"But aren't they identical?" I insisted.

"Oh, no," he said. "Look, the design's slightly different."

And, indeed, to my eyes, it did seem different enough. I couldn't help going back to the words of the great English Judge Colin Birss, who dismissed Apple's plaintive puppy eyes by saying that Samsung's products are "not as cool" as Apple's.

The Galaxy Tab looked like it had employed a personal shopper but dressed in too much of a hurry. Perhaps I'm too used to seeing an iPad around the world, but there was no way I was going to confuse it with an iPad. And there is that Samsung logo on the front of the Tab, too.

"So do people come in here and confuse the two?" I asked, innocently.

"Nah," he said. "It's never happened to me or to anyone else I know here."

Still, I was not to be deterred. The trial was echoing in my ears. Perhaps he would push me onto a Galaxy Tab and tell me it was somehow the same. So I asked: "Which one should I buy?"

"That's easy," said Oscar. "The iPad."

"Why?" I asked

"It's easy to use," he said with gusto. "I bought my parents one each and they love them."

He could tell I was suspicious, so he offered me an interesting flourish: "iPads are generally for older people. For the younger people, I don't usually recommend an iPad so much. I recommend an Android."

He pointed toward a little Toshiba thing that looked like something that used to be made by Tandy, while I remembered a survey from last week that suggested Apple's fanboys are now predominantly over 35.

"Why would young people prefer something like that?" I wondered.

"Customization," explained Oscar.

I'm guessing Oscar was around 23. But he's a very nice 23, not surly and genuinely tried to be helpful.

That trial, though, was still bugging me. "But I heard at that trial that they're saying that the Galaxy Tab and the iPad look the same."

"Nah," he replied. "Look, they don't. In any case, they're not really fighting about the design at the trial. They're fighting about the insides."

Now that was something I didn't know.

I thanked Oscar and concluded that no reasonable, right-minded, fully-sighted human being could have meandered into this Best Buy and -- with all their faculties still functioning -- believed they had bought an iPad when they had actually bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Yes, they might have been confused while looking at ads , largely because Samsung's ads were so confusingly lifeless that if anyone looked at the product in them at all, they would surely have only given the briefest of glances.

I know that the trial will largely depend on a discussion of who said what to whom and when, of who really invented what little icon and who patented it and when and of minutiae that would bore the most hardened monk.

I know that Apple is, as always , swatting at a competitor, while trying to protect its future and nag Samsung into thinking a little, um, different. (Hey, look at that Samsung Galaxy Note thing. That's different.)

But if there really had been some massive deception perpetrated at America's Best Buys by Samsung's allegedly feline copiers, wouldn't at least Twitter have been full of wailing within a day?

 

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