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Amazon launches a rival to Best Buy's Geek Squad

Best Buy's share price dropped after the announcement.
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The face-to-face service offered by the Geek Squad makes Best Buy stand out from the crowd in the face of huge competition from online sellers in the electronics market.

But the Richfield-based company received some interesting news on Monday. The biggest online retailer of them all, Amazon, announced it has launched its own in-home installation and repair service to rival Geek Squad.

Amazon now has a Smart Home Services store on its website, which right now puts you in contact with an expert who can explain the benefits of its Alexa-linked products and suggests addition for smart home goods.

But in several cities (not the Twin Cities yet), it's starting to offer a service that allows customers to book appointments for installations, schedule free consultations and get their tech repaired – much in the same vein as what Geek Squad offers, Recode reports.

CNN reports that from now on, when a customer buys a home device on Amazon, they will have the option to set up an installation appointment, with prices varying from $10 to set up Amazon Fire TV, to $99 to install a Smart Thermostat.

Best Buy's share prices dropped 7 percent on Monday after the news broke, CNN notes.

Sure, "Smart Home Services" doesn't roll off the tongue in the same way "Geek Squad" does, but it nonetheless represents Amazon's more definitive move into the growing "Smart Home" market.

More and more people are expected to install appliances (fridges, thermostats, light fixtures, etc.) that are linked by Wi-Fi, allowing users to control them via their mobile devices or voice-activated home hubs like the Amazon Echo or the Google Home.

Best Buy unfazed by news

Geek Squad services still have an edge on what Amazon is offering – Geek Squad doesn't just do Smart Home installations and Wi-Fi setup, but also repairs computers, laptops, cameras, TVs and cellphones even if you didn't buy them from Best Buy.

Last month, it was announced that Best Buy would become one of the few retailers worldwide officially approved by Apple to repair cracked iPhone screens.

And much like Amazon's Smart Homes Service, Best Buy is trialling its own in-home consultation service suggesting tech improvements that can be made around the home, the Star Tribune reported on Monday. The pilot program is being tested in a handful of markets.

In a comment to GoMN, Best Buy said Amazon's move proves that "consumers love technology but frequently need help getting the most out of it."

"We are excited about the range of initiatives we have previously announced that do just that and feel uniquely positioned to serve consumers by offering products, services and support wherever the customer wants it, including in one of our 1,000 stores, on BestBuy.com and in homes millions of times a year," a spokesman said.

Nonetheless, any move into its territory from Amazon will be a cause for concern. GoMN spoke with retail experts last year who highlighted Geek Squad as a crucial part of Best Buy's future success, given that consumers will always need people to repair, advise on and install equipment they buy.

Business Insider notes that with home tech becoming increasingly complicated, expert customer service will be a huge selling point for electronics retailers going forward and companies like Best Buy – with its 20,000-strong Geek Squad – were thought to have an advantage over online firms.

Amazon's latest move could be set to test that thinking.

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