Apple has them. Microsoft too. And now rumor has it that Google will join in, as the search giant turned chief Android OS developer is set to open retail stores in time for the holiday season.
In recent years, Google has made strong plays in the hardware space, first championing its Android mobile operating system, then working with partners on Nexus-brand smartphones and tablets as well as Google Chromebook laptops, and most recently, buying Motorola Mobility. Google has thus far relied on retail partners like Best Buy and online sales to move product, but it appears Google wants to bring its wares directly to consumers and offer a full retail Google experience.
In fact, Google has already dipped its toe in these waters. There are currently dedicated Google Chrome setups in many Best Buy locations in the US, and in other retail outlets overseas.It’s a move that has worked wonderfully for Apple, as its dedicated Apple Stores allow users to try before they buy, and are staffed by knowledgeable and focused employees. Those outlets also enable Apple to control every detail of the consumer sales and marketing experience, right down to employee talking points and physical display details.
Given the uniqueness of current and future Google products, Google will likely need the same dedicated and focused sales experience Apple so wonderfully employees. The relatively inexpensive Google Chromebooks for instance, aren’t like typical PCs, as they run the light Google Chrome OS, which requires an always-on internet connection for full function. Also, Google Glass, its upcoming augmented reality eyewear, is certainly something potential buyers would likely try first-hand before buying. The stores could even serve as a showcase of other Google endeavors, like self-driving cars and Google TV.
Of course, there is also the potential for major free publicity with Google Stores. Imagine lines forming on the eves of major Android product launches as they do for the new iPhones and iPads.