Just as the world was wondering if Google could really support its fancy new phones (and their fancy new price point) without retail stores to call its own, Google decides to surprise everyone by opening up some stores.
More accurately, Google will be bringing a “Made by Google” pop-up shop to NYC on Oct. 21, according to Google. The pop-up will display the recently released Google round of hardware, including the Pixel phone, Google Home, the beefed-up Chromecast, the Google router and the Daydream VR headset.
The hanging question mark over the pop-up shops is what they portend. Is Google making a temporary push into the real world to introduce it to its devices, or will these pop-ups be a prelude to a network of permanent physical locations à la Apple Stores
Physical locations have long been considered key to electronics sales in particular due to their relative expense and the fact that consumers like to play with them a bit before buying.
Amazon, however, has shown a persistent ability to erode that trend and has managed to effectively leverage its massive — if digital-only — business into a mostly successful hardware business, particularly with its IoT-managing home device, the Echo. But then again, that “mostly successful” description is qualified by the Fire Phone, which did not do so well.
The pop-up shop is something of a toe-in for Google, allowing it to try out locations and marketing campaigns before going all in on a physical expansion that could be costly.
And Google has something of a love-hate relationship with selling in the real world. Until about a year ago, all signs pointed to a permanent Google store to be located in a prime New York City location — only for the firm to rapidly pull the plug on the project and unload the space.
Perhaps it is taking a slightly more measured and cautious approach this time.