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Rant: Separate Best Buy Canada and Futureshop iPhone apps — why did they bother?

Best Buy Canada and Futureshop both sell tech goods and are both owned by the same company, but that hasn’t stopped people from corporate from trying desperately to differentiate the two. In Canada this has been accomplished by using different colours for the uniforms and leaving Futureshop comission-compensated, but we all know the one true way to differentiate two very similar brands is to create iPhone apps around them…and that’s exactly what has happened with the Futureshop and Best Buy apps on the Canadian App Store.

These apps actually came out back in August, but I didn’t notice them until they hit the front page of the App Store this week. The question I have is: why did they even bother making them different? Or did they even try at all?

Futureshop and Best Buy are basically the same app, but for a few silly differences. Both apps features store locators, online shopping capability (what you’d expect to find in a mobile web app), but for some reason the Best Buy app was hit with a Very Large and Very Ugly Stick.

Instead of showcasing all of the various shopping categories in a spacious grid layout like Futureshop’s, Best Buy shows you a very plain and rather crowded vertical list of goods. This extends even to individual item views — Futureshop shows a lot more content on-screen, whereas Best Buy separates pictures and text and doesn’t let you see much of either.

For crying out loud, most savvy shoppers know that Best Buy bought out Futureshop in Canada and a thinly veiled Futureshop app with a crappier layout and blue-shirted branding really isn’t going to change that. If anything, trying to differentiate these two tech store brands with carbon copy apps and using crayon to draw “BEST BUY” over one of them probably only drives home the notion that “yes, they’re basically the same store, but we’re too lazy to make the effort”.

So should you download either of these apps? Certainly, both seem like useful little web apps (although I do wish they showed in-store stock) — but make sure you rail on the developers about how silly the differences between the two are.

Or am I the only one who finds this very, very silly?

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