According to a Google contact that 9to5 Google is calling “an extremely reliable source,” the company will be launching retail stores in major US cities this year. These stores are supposed to be up and running in time for the holidays. There is no word yet how many cities might be included or how quickly additional locations may roll out from there, but I’m sure we all hope our cities are on the list somewhere
While even a year ago this would seem like a strange move, it makes sense given Google’s strong push into consumer electronics. They have long been a mainstay of consumer software, but have only recently delved very strongly into hardware. A year ago there were a small number of Nexus phones they had partnered with OEM’s to produce. In this past year they have quickly made Nexus a popularly recognizable brand. Now the demand for Nexus 4s has far surpassed Google’s expectations. The Nexus 10 similarly has been in and out of stock since launch. Google has also recently had an even stronger push into Chromebooks. There have been three new models released since last summer; all of which are available through the Play Store, much like their Nexus cousins.
Despite all of these efforts, many people are hesitant to buy electronics they can’t first touch. While I ordered my Nexus 10 pretty soon after launch, I understand why people have this hesitation to purchase online. I have called around several Best Buy locations trying to find one with a Chromebook so I could try it out. None in my area have any, so I decided against purchasing one. Likewise, I had to visit several T-Mobile stores before being able to finally try out the Nexus 4. Only then did I really start looking into making the switch. Google has made a great entry into hardware, but so far it is hard to find them in stores. Providing a place for people to see all of these at once could be very beneficial to growing their market share and popular appeal.
In addition to all of its existing products, Google is preparing to sell Google Glass straight to consumers sometime next year. The price to developers who got to pre-order at Google I/O last year is $1500. I’m sure the cost will come down once it becomes widely available, but still many people will be hesitant to order such a brand new piece of technology online before they get a hands on experience with it. Putting in place retail stores this year will prepare Google for the 2014 launch of Glass.
The real question here is how successful Google can be in this venture. Their line of devices is expanding, but is it enough to justify an entire storefront? Perhaps. Apple has certainly been successful when it comes to retail stores and Microsoft already has followed suit, making it less surprising that Google will now be joining them.
I’m looking forward to checking out one of these stores once they start popping up. I hope one comes to town so I can always keep up on the latest Google gadgets, even if I can’t always purchase them. My guess is Google is working behind the scenes now but is waiting until I/O to official announce it. I’m sure we will then, among the many other things Google has planned, we will know more about these stores. But most importantly, who doesn’t want to be able to walk into a shop and try out Google Glass?
Update: The Wall Street Journal is also backing up this story with a source of their own. They seem less certain that Google is actually going ahead with the plan and seem to indicate it is still in planning mode. Either way, it is almost definitely being strongly considered at this point.
via The Verge