SAN FRANCISCO — Something new may be coming soon from Google: A full-blown retail experience to showcase its new consumer electronics devices.
For now, the Internet giant is opening a "Made by Google" pop-up shop in New York City. The shop that will spring up at 96 Spring St. on Oct. 20 isn't the first retail location for Google. The Internet giant has had stores inside other stores. But it does not — at least not yet — have the equivalent of Apple stores.
The introduction of a high-end line of hardware marks a new era for the Internet giant and there's the hint that a more ambitious brick-and-mortar retail strategy may be in the making.
Google is in the midst of a new and very aggressive push to sell its own consumer electronic devices, rather than supplying the software to manufacturers.
Pop-up shops are a common prelude to establishing a bigger retail presence. That's what Microsoft did for its Xbox and Surface devices. Samsung has also opened these temporary stores for the holidays.
"It seems inevitable that they need some kind of hardware presence to show this stuff off in a consistent and joined-up way," said Jan Dawson, chief analyst with Jackdaw Research.
The challenge? Opening retail outlets is a costly and time-consuming endeavor if Google wants to reach a significant chunk of the U.S. population, Dawson said.
"Look at Apple – it launched its first stores 15 years ago, has been ramping up steadily since, and still has under 300 US stores. Microsoft is an even more relevant and a more recent example," he said. "If you’re willing to sacrifice some of the premium in the retail experience, you can roll out more quickly – Microsoft has around 100 US stores. But Microsoft can show off both its own devices and third party devices – I’m not sure Google could reasonably do the same in its retail stores."
Among the Google devices that will be on display: the new Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, virtual reality headset Daydream View, Google Home smart speaker and Google WiFi.