By Michael Moore
Google has taken a major step forward in its attempts to conquer the offline retail world with the launch of its first ever U.K. physical store.
The search giant has partnered with Currys PC World to open up a special location for the sale and maintenance of its Android products, with the first new location on London's Tottenham Court Road opening this morning.
From today, customers will be able to browse a range of Android-powered phones and tablets, Chromebook laptops and Chromecasts, as well as learning about how they all work together.
Two more stores, in Currys PC World’s Fulham and Thurrock Megastores, will also open later this year, as Google looks to extend its physical retail footprint.
"The pace of innovation of the devices we all use is incredible, yet the way we buy them has remained the same for years," said Google’s James Elias. "With the Google shop, we want to offer people a place where they can play, experiment and learn about all of what Google has to offer; from an incredible range of devices to a totally-connected, seamless online life."
Visitors will also be able to enjoy a variety of immersive experiences that look to demonstrate how Google's products tie together. This includes a surround screen installation called "Portal," where users can "fly" through any part of the planet through Google Earth, and a 'Chromecast Pod' where customers can enjoy Google Play Movies, YouTube and more, all cast through a Chromecast dongle that converts any TV into a smart TV.
The store will also be running regular classes and events for the public, with topics ranging from basic online security to "Virtual Space Camps," which will look to teach children the basics of coding.
"We are delighted to partner with Google in bringing a world first retail experience to one of our stores," said Ainsley Sykes, senior project manager for Currys PC World.
"This will be a new and innovative way for customers to engage in store, interacting with the immersive technology as well as having fun while learning. Google experts will be on hand to maximize the experience for users and provide help and support around the Google eco-system. This fantastic space compliments the interactive and informative environment we aim to create for customers visiting all of our stores."