Google will soon be opening a brick-and-mortar Google store in a trendy Manhattan neighborhood, where it will likely show off a wide range of Google products and services as a next-door neighbor to high-end retailers such as Dior Homme, Stella McCartney and Tiffany.
That's the conclusion of a March 10 report in Crain's New York Business, which cited "retail experts" who claim that Google is "near to signing a lease at 131 Greene St. for what would be its first brick-and-mortar store in the country."
Richard Hodos, a real estate agent with CBRE in New York, told Crain's that such a move "could do for cobblestone Greene Street what the Apple store did for Prince [Street]," referring to an Apple store "that became a retail phenomenon in SoHo."
A Google store in the trendy neighborhood would be huge, said Hodos. "This is going to be an attraction that will generate excitement for Greene Street that people will want to come and see," he said.
The Crain's report cited sources who described Google's plans for an 8,000-square-foot store at 131 Greene St., less than 200 feet below Houston Street.
Google did not respond to an eWEEK request for comment today about Crain's report.
A brick-and-mortar Google store is not a new idea.
In November 2013, Google opened six temporary "Winter Wonderlab" pop-up stores in six U.S. cities to give holiday shoppers an opportunity to see and use Google products up-close, just in time for the gift-giving season. The stores were filled with Nexus 7 tablets, the latest Chromebooks, the Chromecast video dongle and more so that shoppers could check out the products and place online orders on the spot. The special shopping areas were set up in New York City's Bryant Park and in Annapolis, Md.; Aurora, Ill.; Canoga Park, Calif.; Paramus, N.J.; and Roseville, Calif.
The stores were first rumored in February 2013, according to a report at that time by 9to5google.com.
"An extremely reliable source has confirmed to us that Google is in the process of building stand-alone retail stores in the U.S. and hopes to have the first flagship Google Stores open for the holidays in major metropolitan areas," the post reported. "The mission of the stores is to get new Google Nexus, Chrome, and especially upcoming products into the hands of prospective customers. Google feels right now that many potential customers need to get hands-on experience with its products before they are willing to purchase. Google competitors Apple and Microsoft both have retail outlets where customers can try before they buy."
The store, which will certainly compete with Apple retail stores and traditional electronics retailers such as Best Buy and h.h.gregg, will allow Google to feature its own products without any distractions. Google does already sell some of its products, such as Chromebooks and Android phones and tablets, inside many Best Buy stores across the nation and on the BestBuy.com Website. Apple, one of Google's key competitors, has a successful history running its own chain of stores to sell its own products.
Microsoft also opened some of its own stores starting in 2009; they were strategically located in many cases near Apple Stores, according to a previous eWEEK report. The stores are located in dozens of cities across the United States and Canada.
The growth of Google's Android mobile operating system platform is surely a motivating factor in the company's long-term goals for any kind of retail strategy.
Since October 2013, Google has also been at work building two floating barges that are to be used as showcases for the company's products and technologies, according to reports. The barges are being built in California and Portland, Maine.