Following Apple’s lead and Microsoft’s later foray into the retail space, it is rumored that Google will be opening its own retail stores to compete. This would be a first for Google–an expansion from a web URL to a physical address–as it tries to push further into the consumer space. Official Google retail stores are speculated to open by the holiday shopping season in major cities, though specifics are not yet known at this time.
The Google retail stores would be a great way for Google to better interact with customers and introduce new technologies, like Google Glass, where it would be among the first to broach the heads-up display and wearable computing category in such a large and novel scale. It would also help Google introduce new Nexus devices and offer customers an opportunity to have hands-on time with the devices before they purchase.
Moreover, a retail presence would also allow Google to offer customers service after the point of sales. If a customer have an issue or problem with the software or hardware, Google could potentially help customers resolve those problems in person. This would help Google compete against Apple in the service department as Apple has a Genius bar in its stores and Microsoft has its Answer Desk service at its retail locations.
But these reasons may be secondary to the Google Glass project, according to 9to5 Google. As there hasn’t really been a consumer-grade product on that scale, Google may be tasked with the job of educating customers before they buy the product in order for the Google Glass project to be successful. Other projects that Google had tackled–such as Android smartphones through the Nexus line and the Chromebook netbook–already have competitors on the market where customers are already familiar with those ideas of computing whereas Google Glass will be a foreign or completely novel experience for most people. Google Glass will be an expensive proposition to try to get unfamiliar customers to buy into as it’s speculated to be priced between $500 and $1000 for consumers.
Whether Google will try to emulate Apple as Microsoft had when it opened its retail stores or if it will forge its own path is unclear. It’s also unclear if Google will sell and showcase only its own products or if it will utilize its retail presence to highlight all products running its services and OSes, like Microsoft, and also display products made by other OEM partners.