Google plans to open its own retail stores, similar in concept to the highly successful Apple retail outlets, according to a widely followed report by Google-watcher tech site 9to5Google.com.
The exclusive story, based on information from an unnamed “extremely reliable” source familiar with Google’s plans, said Google hopes to have the first flagship Google stores open for the Christmas shopping season in major cities, 9to5Google.com reported.
Google has a growing array of products that can be sold directly to the public, such as Google Nexus, Chrome and the perhaps soon-to-be released Google Glass.
“Google feels right now that many potential customers need to get hands-on experience with its products before they are willing to purchase,” wrote Seth Weintraub, 9to5Google.com publisher and editor.
The decision to open its own full-blown Google stores was prompted by plans to launch Google Glass as a consumer product.
“The leadership thought consumers would need to try Google Glass first hand to make a purchase,” Weintraub wrote. “From there, the decision to sell other Google-branded products made sense.”
Google Glass is expected to be in full release by 2014, and initial developer versions of the device will sell for about $1,500, according to TechRadar. Google Glass is expected to be a wearable computing device resembling eyeglasses, but with LED text displays in the inner rim and GPS capability.
9to5Google.com said Google Glass would retail for between $500 and $1,000 each.
TechRadar said Google Glass might tell the wearer where the nearest decent restaurant is, and give directions, or it might provide work-related information when you’re at your desk.
Google retail stores may be a logical idea, according to Forbes, as Google is already in the tangible hardware business, with its own smartphones, tablets and laptop computers.
Google currently has Chrome Store-within-a-store models in some Best Buy locations in the U.S. and in some U.K. electronics retailers.
Perhaps the best endorsement for Google retail stores came from a rival, Apple CEO Tim Cook. He recently told analysts that Apple stores have become the face of the company.
“I don’t think we would have been nearly as successful with iPad if it weren’t for our stores,” Cook said. “The average store last year was over $50 million in revenue.”
CNET noted Google is still on the record as denying that a decision to open Google retail stores has been made. CNET, the Los Angeles Times and other media outlets said Google could not be reached for comment on the 9to5Google.com story.
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