Talking tech since 2003

While we’ve yet to find an official press release, CNBC reports today that online mega-retailer Amazon plans to open a brick-and-mortar store in downtown Manhattan on 34th Street, across from the Empire State Building. The question on everyone’s mind, of course, is “why?”

According to the report, the “experimental pop-up store” will open in time for the holiday – and tourist – season, and will serve two functions: to act as a small warehouse to aid in same-day deliveries in New York City, and to possibly offer a demo space for Amazon’s ever-growing line of electronic devices. That includes the Kindle, the Kindle Fire tablet, the Fire Phone, and Fire TV, as well as whatever else I’ve forgotten that Amazon makes now.

Considering the popularity of the Kindle Fire line of tablets, as well as their affordability, it seems like a smart move to have a high profile location that will give potential customers the chance to try them out and make an impulse buy while on a trip to New York. Likewise, having a space that can fill the need of same-day delivery in such a huge consumer market makes a lot of sense as well.

However, one of the main reasons that Amazon’s been able to do so well over the years is the fact that it has no brick-and-mortar locations. Being able to undercut competition that needs to pay rent or a mortgage at a physical location has been one of the reasons why Amazon can consistently offer the lowest prices on everything. While it’s unlikely that having one “experimental” store will change all that, I still have to wonder why Amazon feels the need to change what’s been working for so long.

The reason, I think, could have to do with its recent trend of trying to compete on the same playing field as Apple, Google, and Microsoft, all of which make the same kinds of devices that Amazon makes. Having a retail location in one of the commercial centers of the country will help boost Amazon’s profile and – potentially – put it on the same playing field as Apple and Microsoft. At least, that’s the theory I assume they’re operating from. To me, this sounds like a silly idea.

What do you think? Do you want to visit the Amazon store? I mean, Times Square has a store devoted just to M&Ms, so I suppose an Amazon store makes more sense than that.

[Source: CNBC]

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