Google Faces New Battle for Retail Shelf Space

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-06-14 Print this article Print


5. It's more than a phone

When Apple inked its deal with other retail outlets, the company also formed relationships that could have a significant impact on the availability of the iPad, iPod and any other products that the company plans to offer in the future. At the same time, Google is planning to break into other markets too. By being second to the game, it might not get the kind of attention or special treatment that Apple has.

6. Google is behind due to other efforts

Apple's decision to bring the iPhone to many more retail outlets is a smart one. Google's decision to offer the Nexus One exclusively online was a bad idea. And that's precisely why the company said that it would bring the device to carrier stores going forward. But as it toiled away online, Google missed the opportunity it needed to bring the device to many more retail locations. Meanwhile, Apple capitalized on Google's absence from retail outlets. Now, Google is far behind. It needs to find a way to start giving consumers more options that actually make sense to them. If it can, it won't need to worry so much about iPhone ubiquity. If it fails, trouble will ensue.

7. Apple is changing the game

The last thing any company wants to see is their top competitor make the move that changes everything. And once again, Google has allowed it to happen. By offering the iPhone in so many different locations, Apple has ensured that going forward, the key success factor in smartphone retail is availability. Google tried to revolutionize that space with its Nexus One store, but it failed miserably. And now, it needs to play by Apple's rules. That's never a good thing. 

8. Phone choice only goes so far

One of the key reasons why Google's Android platform has been so successful is its availability on so many different devices. Whereas the iPhone is the only smartphone running Apple's iOS, Android OS runs on several different smartphones. That's a good thing. But those choices only go so far when they're locked into carrier retail locations. With the iPhone available in so many more places, Apple is working toward evening the playing field. Yes, iOS might only be available on one device, but it's on sale in several locations. That should help the company's ability to attract customers that would have otherwise missed it.

9. Other retailers are watching

Make no mistake that other major retailers are waiting to see how well the iPhone sells in the competition's stores over the coming months. If they like what they see, they might go to Apple and see how they can get in on the action. If Apple is smart (and it is), the company will gladly add them to the growing list of retail partners. Meanwhile, Google will be left wondering what it needs to do to get its Android-based devices into more retail outlets. Admittedly, it won't be easy. The best the company can hope for is that Apple says no to different retailers and they opt for the next-best alternative.

10. It changes consumer perception

Whether Google likes it or not, having the iPhone available in so many different retail locations changes consumer perception of the many devices on store shelves. To most, seeing the iPhone sitting on a shelf in Radio Shack or Best Buy puts it on another level beyond any other device competing for space in a mobile carrier's store or kiosk. It takes on special meaning and importance that other devices don't share. That's an extremely important consideration in all this. Consumer opinion is all that really matters. And by seeing the iPhone in so many different places, some folks might think that Apple's smartphone is so worthwhile, it transcends traditional smartphone retail strategies. It's something for Google to keep in mind.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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