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Google to go bricks and mortar with stores?

The word around the online town is that online behemoth Google will soon be plying its trade in the physical bricks and mortar retail sector and the people who claim to be in the know say that this more than just a rumour. But does Google have the right products to make it a success?

As everyone knows all too well, Apple has already demonstrated with spectacular success that the single vendor retail store model can work well in the consumer space even if you only have a limited range of products - provided you have the right products.

Well Google also has a limited range of products it can sell to consumers and the interesting thing is that not only do they play in a similar space to Apple but they offer a real alternative to Apple's walled garden coolness and could even offer quite a bit more.

First up, is this just a rumour or is there some substance to the story?

The folks over at Google-watching site 9to5google.com claim an "extremely reliable source" has confirmed that Google is already in the process of building standalone retail stores in the US which they hope to have open by the end of 2013.

So what would would these stores sell? That's not a hard one to figure out.

Google already has mini-stores within major retail chains in both the US and UK (Best Buys and Dixons) showing off products like Chromebooks that can be bought online.

So obviously Chromebooks will be on shelves. However, more importantly, the products with monster Apple slaying potential will be the Nexus 4, 7 and 10 range of Android phones and tablets.

Then there's the added allure of the Google Glass project, and the prospect of selling wearable augmented reality head mounted devices from the new Google stores. It would not be hard to imagine people clawing their way to get in to a Google store just for the experience of trying out the new wonder glasses.

However, aside from vending its limited range of consumer hardware products, Google could have a huge opportunity to emulate and expand on the Apple Genius model and populate its stores with fresh young experts on the use of both its online consumer products as well as its professional offerings such as Google Analytics, Double-Click and Ad-Sense. This in fact could be a significant differentiator from Apple.

Like Apple, despite an occasional blemish on its do no evil mantra, Google still has a certain coolness factor among its band of acolytes, so it may well take a leaf out of Apple's book and use its huge online marketing channel to press on into a space where it has never ventured before.


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Stan Beer


Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.