February 27, 2013
Google Exec Buries Rumors Of Retail Store
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Last week belonged to Google Glass. 9to5Google began the news week strong with a report from “extremely reliable sources” claiming that Google would begin opening up their own chain of retail stores. These stores would be primarily focused on getting their glasses on as many faces as possible.
The Verge closed out the week with a note of finality, scoring an exclusive hands-on with Glass, featuring a svelte-looking Joshua Topolsky walking around New York City and talking to his glasses.
Now, however, one Google exec has claimed that earlier rumors about Google-branded retail stores are false, saying his company has no need for retail stores.
Speaking to reporters at the Mobile World Congress this week, Android chief Andy Rubin made the claim that consumers do the bulk of their pre-purchase research online. Therefore, Google doesn´t need a retail presence to persuade people to buy their products.
“They don´t have to go in the store and feel it anymore,” said Rubin, according to All Things D.
Rubin also claimed that Google hardware isn´t yet ready to be highlighted in its own retail store.
“For Nexus, I don´t think the program is far enough along to think about the necessity of having these things in a retail store.”
When directly asked about plans to open such a store, Rubin placed the final nail in the coffin, saying: “Google has no plans and we have nothing to announce.”
It´s an interesting pronouncement, given the company´s recent push into building their own hardware. It´s even more interesting considering the gamble they´ll soon be making with Glass, a product so futuristic that many will undoubtedly want to try it on first before dropping the $1,500 that they´re expected to go for.
The “extremely reliable sources” who spoke with 9to5Google claimed the search giant would use these stores as a way to give the general public their first taste of Glass and hopefully drive sales.
Though Rubin claims Google´s hardware business is still in its infancy, the company has been steadily releasing new hardware. Most recently, the company announced the latest Chromebook, the Pixel. The Pixel is a premium-priced laptop with a high-resolution touch screen and LTE connectivity. However, the Pixel is the same price as a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro and does not beat these computers´ spec sheets. The company also pushed their Nexus line of smartphones and tablets last year, selling a screen at every popular size.
Google isn´t without any kind of retail presence, of course. Customers can visit Best Buy stores in the US or Dixon stores in the UK to get their hands on actual Google gear. These little sections are stocked with Google´s own Blue Shirts, but these employees aren´t responsible for making the sale. When a customer does decide to buy a Chromebook, Best Buy and Dixon employees jump in and handle the transaction.
It will be interesting to see how well Glass will sell at $1,500 without any retail presence, or if Google will even opt to sell their futuristic specs in Best Buy and Dixon stores at all.