Google's range of physical hardware products is expanding more and more every year. Isn't it time that the company expanded beyond a few Best Buy shelf displays and started making its own stores? Someone at Google thinks so, because the first branded store is opening this summer. The Google Store (catchy) will be located in Chelsea, New York City, in the Port Authority Commerce Building at 111 Eighth Avenue.
Inside the doors of the Google Store will be pretty much exactly what you'd expect: Pixel phones, Pixelbook laptops, Nest smarthome and media devices, and accessories for all of them. Google's Fitbit acquisition will be on display with fitness and smartwatch products featured. In the typical feature retail fashion, "experts" will be on hand to educate prospective buyers on how Google's various products and services work together.
The new Google Store is an important next step in our hardware journey of providing the most helpful experience of Google, wherever and whenever people need it. We look forward to meeting many of our customers and hearing their feedback on the store, so we can continue to explore and experiment with the possibilities of a physical retail space and build upon the experience.
Google's blog post makes sure to note that its first store will be entirely compliant with safety regulations as the pandemic winds down in the United States. Masks and social distancing will be required (at least at launch), and the number of guests allowed inside at any given time will be limited. Fast pickup for orders will be available, though that's obviously only practical for buyers already in New York City.
Premiere retail locations for single electronics sellers have an obvious template in Apple's famous stores. But it seems like those who try to emulate the model fail far more often than they succeed: Microsoft pumped money into a chain of retail stores starting in 2009 on the strength of its Surface, Xbox, and Windows Phone lines, but bowed out of the market last year. Samsung has "Experience Stores" at just four locations in the US.
Google has tinkered with temporary "popup stores" before, as well as prominent displays in luxury spaces like b8ta. The company had previously planned to open retail stores as recently as 2019, but it backed out of those plans every time. Since Google has only committed to a single store thus far, I'd say that this is more of a hesitant experiment than a bold declaration of intention to fully enter the retail market.