Sources for the website 9 to 5 Google have briefed the site on Google’s apparent plans to open “Google Stores” in major metropolitan areas by the holiday season later this year. At the moment, Google either sells its goods through its own Google Play store online, or through a few select retailers like Best Buy and Walmart. The stores would give Google a way to get even closer to potential customers without a retail store middleman.
The company currently operates Chrome stores within a few hundred Best Buy locations, where Google-certified salespeople can help answer any questions about ChromeOS-powered laptops and mini-desktops. By opening its own retail locations, Google can not only prominently display its Chromebooks, but it can also put an emphasis on the wide variety of Android smartphones, tablets and accessories. It’s a move that mimics what Apple and Microsoft have done with their own Apple Stores and Microsoft Stores, and it signals that Google may be ready to do more than just rely on third-parties to create PCs and devices running its software.
The inspiration to open retail stores is said to have come from discussions involving Google Glass. Because the technology is one that consumers would likely want to try before they buy, opening Google Store locations with demonstration units seemed like the best route to take. Of course, if Google is indeed following through with these plans, visitors to the store will likely find other Android and ChromeOS demo devices in the store, as well.
In my opinion, this is a wise move. Google’s strategy of selling devices exclusively online didn’t work that well for the Nexus One. The Nexus 7 has seen some some success, but the device was also available through several other retailers besides the Google Play store. Some people simply feel it’s necessary to try a product before they plunk down the cash on a full purchase, and Google Stores would provide those folks with a way to get their hands on Google’s laptops, smartphones and tablets without the up-front investment. It’ll also provide consumers with instant gratification — if Google opens its own stores, it’ll almost certainly have its branded devices available at these stores on launch day. No waiting for a box from UPS.
We’ll keep you posted on this story as we learn more.