Well, it’s finally happened. Google opened its first retail store. Sure, it is just a little holiday kiosk inside the U.K.’s PC World, but still, it is happening. This is how Microsoft started its retail store- just little pop-up shops inside larger stores like Best Buy, Circuit City, and, yes, PC World in 2008. Now they have almost a dozen stores and are looking to open seventy five more by 2014. They learned what they needed and then started spreading.
Sure, Google does not have the product necessary to start their own store- yet. The PC World kiosk only sells Chromebooks and headphones, and that is just for the holidays. But wait; what about the airport kiosks already up? They are called the Chrome Zone: the outlets in several U.S. airports that let you pick up a Chromebook before you fly out on Virgin Airlines.
Not only does Google have the power to start stores that rival Apple, but it has the brand-edge. Between the verb ‘googling’ it, and the omnipresent Chrome, Google is set to be the next big hit. Everything relies on the products it chooses to create.
How can Google create more than just the Chromebook? Ask Motorola. After the purchase of the tech major-domo, Google has the ability to create and sell a variety of things. Even Google TV could soon be added to your cable service. Anything from Chrome-phones to Google DVRs are up for grabs. The next few years will show just how good the newly teen Google is at planning ahead.
The danger here is that Google is good at providing free products. But what happens when customers have to pay? Google has a long history of launching unfinished tech: Honeycomb, Google+, even the original search engine was struggling to scale after its launch. That’s fine for free- people will stick around and tolerate a learning curve. But if they pay for something, they want it to work right the first time. Is Google going to be able to do that? Or will it forever be a free-only company, sneaking in money off the radar? The next few years will tell.