What do you do when you want to confirm a rumour about the possibility of Google opening its own string of name-brand proprietary retail stores? Easy: Google it.
If the buzz is to be believed, the Internet behemoth — heretofore a virtual behemoth only — is poised to follow in the tracks of Apple, Sony and Microsoft with the launch of its own dedicated, brand-specific retail presence. The stores would, in theory, provide a tangible means for the company to sell its various and expanding portfolio of physical products, including Google mobile phones, tablets and Chromebooks.
There’s considerable brewing response on both sides of the divide to this announcement, with some calling the idea a brilliant move, and others declaring it a blatant ripoff of Apple and a waste of time considering how few tactile products the company actually has.
That Google is becoming ever more physical is indisputable. Last year, the company bought out Motorola Mobility, which builds smartphones and tablets. High-traffic shopping malls could provide Google with the chance to promote and demonstrate such things, and to attract tech keeners to the likes of Google TV and Google Glass, the company’s much-ballyhooed new digital eyewear that offers users the ability to explore, record and share what’s in front of their eyes like never before. Now selling for $1,500 by lottery only, the futuristic devices are projected to be in stores by the holidays, retailing for between $500 and $1,000.
Presumably, the stores will also give Google the means to demo other in-the-works and Google X projects like driverless cars and mini-drone delivery systems.
Certainly the formula worked for Apple, where the organization’s massive network of nearly 400 stores earns more per square foot than any retail chain in the US. Microsoft, which has historically occupied the software-only world but now makes its own gaming and tablet devices, adapted the model in 2009. But, four years in, Microsoft has just about 65 stores in operation (five in Canada), with no one crowing about their success just yet.
And detractors to Google’s purported proposal argue that convincing customers to buy from a physical store whose name is so synonymous with virtual activities might just confuse. Google might invest more time in cultivating its nascent hardware before making such a leap, they say.
Still, the ubiquitous search engine might just be poised for retail-ready ascension, after all, with its stock scoring a new high last week, clearing $800 for the first time. Perhaps the sheen on Apple’s bricks-and-mortar success is ripe for Google’s picking.