Google Chooses London for Its First Store

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Google Shop

When Google opened its first physical shop you might have expected a song and dance. Instead the arrival of Google’s “Chrome Zone” in central London has happened so quietly you almost wouldn’t notice it had happened.

The London Evening Standardreports: “The world’s first “Google store” opened not in California but in the less glamorous setting of PC World in Tottenham Court Road at 9 a.m. local-time.”

The 285 sq. ft. pop-up “shop within a shop”, which only sells Google’s Chromebook laptop and a few accessories such as headphones, will run for three months up to Christmas.

The report continues: “A second pop-up store will open at Lakeside shopping centre in Essex on Oct. 7 and more pilot shops are planned around the world in the coming months. A spokeswoman said: ‘We’ve put a lot of effort into making it feel welcoming, homely and, dare I say it, Googley.’”

The news has been picked up, perhaps not surprisingly given the publication’s proximity to Google’s worldwide headquarters, by the San Francisco Chronicle, which talks about Google’s retail plans being just an experiment, for now. But this is exactly how Microsoft got into the retail game a few years ago: by creating “Microsoft stores” within big outlets like Circuit City, Best Buy, and–yes–PC World in 2008. It learned what it needed to know. A few months later, Microsoft opened its prototype Retail Experience Center to journalists. In February 2009,  Microsoft announced it would open its own line of stores. Now, it’s approaching a dozen. It plans to build 75 of them by 2014.

The problem for Google is it doesn’t have much to sell in a shop at the moment apart from its Samsung Chromebooks. And they have not always had glowing reviews. Joe Wilcox describes his  experiences with a loaned Samsung Series 5 Chromebook in Beta News:

“My two-month journey to the cloud can offer lessons to Google, which has much work to do yet before Chrome OS is really ready for the masses–that is unless the problems I observed are specific to my Chromebook (which I highly doubt). The browser-based, Linux OS is still an early-adopter product–the bleeding edge that cuts quick and sometimes deep. I’m not convinced even Chrome OS should have a future at all.”

And, incidentally, he says he plans to leave his Chromebook not for a Mac, but a Windows 7 computer.

By Nick Clayton

Evening Standard: Google’s first store pops up in London

The San Francisco Chronicle: Google Just Opened Its First Retail Outlet In London Beta News: I’m giving up Google Chromebook

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