The Apple store is very much like Borders and Barnes and Noble - an environment to congregate, play, socialize and generally have undisturbed fun. The store is always filled with teens and young adults and eludes a sense of excitement. Apple wants you to hangout. All of the computers are hooked up to the internet and the iPods are full of songs. I never bought an Apple product, but I played with plenty (including the iPhone). I guess Apple figures that if I play with their products enough times I will be seduced into buying them. Good plan!
Recently, the Sony Style store started projecting an unwelcoming aura. A security guard follows you when you play with the computers (which are not attached to the internet). They are no longer playing exciting movies, such as "Men in Black", to show off their big screen HDTVs and Blue Ray. Instead they show artsy scenes that do nothing to exploit their technology. All this has driven the young people away. To be sure, Sony has some of the best large LCD HDTVs and they need the young people to see them.
Sony has regained their cool with the VAIO line of laptops, with Apple-type designs, colors and vibrant displays. Better than my old Dell (DELL). I bought the CR series in blue from Office Depot (for a much lower price) after thoroughly testing it at the Sony Style store. A challenge to be sure with their uninformative, snooty staff.
I don't know what the purpose of the Sony Style stores is. If it is purely retail, shunning the curious with no immediate intention to buy, they're right on target. If it is to promote the brand, regardless of when and where you buy, they're failing miserably.