Google's Gadget Stores to Open Just for Holiday Shopping

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-11-18 Print this article Print
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Apple opened its first two Apple Stores May 19, 2001, and now operates some 390 stores, including 28 that are outside the United States, according to a report from

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.

Earlier this month, Google acknowledged that it is planning to use a barge it is building in San Francisco Bay as "an interactive space where people can learn about new technology."

Since late October, when the presence of two Google barges at opposite ends of the nation was first reported all over the Internet, the company has been very quiet about their intent. That, of course, inspired a flurry of attention and guesswork by pundits, news reporters and local officials about the barges. The barge Google is referring to in its statement is in San Francisco Bay, while a second barge in Maine's Portland Harbor apparently is not being discussed so far by Google.

Heading the list of possible uses for the large floating platforms so far have been ideas such as floating, attention-gaining Google Glass stores or the locations for remote data centers that could be floated wherever they are needed.

The floating Glass stores might be the best fit for some kind of "interactive space where people can learn about new technology," as described by Google.

In San Francisco, KPIX TV 5 has been reporting that the four-story-tall collection of shipping containers is being created as a "floating marketing center, a kind of giant Apple store … for Google Glass," according to an Oct. 25 story. That report is in contrast to other theories about Google's plans, including that the barges are homes for data centers. KPIX reported that "Google hopes to tow the completed structure from [the former Navy base at] Treasure Island across the Bay to San Francisco's Fort Mason, where it would be anchored and open to the public."

In the meantime, though, work has stopped on that plan because it turned out that Google didn't have a needed permit to build and float such a facility, according to the TV station. "Google has spent millions on this," a source close to the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission told KPIX. "But they can't park this barge on the waterfront without a permit, and they don't have one."

Google Glass, the company's vision for an eyewear-mounted computer, has been a topic of conversation among techies since news of it first arrived in 2012. The first early Google Glass units began shipping in April 2013 to developers who signed up at the June 2012 Google I/O conference to buy a set for $1,500 for testing and development. It was the hit of the conference, and Glass units for consumers are slated for release by the end of this year, according to an earlier Google report.


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