Google has decided it is a good idea to open a retail store in New York to physically showcase its hardware products.

Google’s announcement on Thursday said that the new Google Store in the Chelsea neighbourhood of New York, “will be a space where customers can experience our hardware and services in a helpful way.”

It said its doors will open in the summer, so potential customers can view and play with Pixel phones, Fitbit wearables, Pixelbooks, Nest products etc.

Google Store

It should be noted that this first-ever retail store is not a particularly big stretch for Google, as the store will be located in the building that houses Google’s NYC offices.

It is also reportedly close to an Apple Store.

“At the Google Store, customers will be able to browse and buy an extensive selection of products made by Google, ranging from Pixel phones to Nest products, Fitbit devices to Pixelbooks and more,” said the tech giant.

“Or they can shop online at GoogleStore.com and pick up their orders in store,” it added. “Throughout the store, visitors will be able to experience how our products and services work together in a variety of immersive ways, which we’re excited to share more about when the doors open.”

Google intends to have its Apple Genius equivalents, as it will have “experts on hand to help visitors get the most out of their device, such as troubleshooting an issue, fixing a cracked Pixel screen or helping with installations.”

Google admitted that the Coronavirus pandemic has significantly changed the way people now shop, but said that “many customers still want to experience hardware before they buy it – and learn what it feels like, sounds like and looks like in their hand or on a desk.”

Google said the store will be designed with Covid-19 in mind, and masks, hand sanitation and social distancing will be required in the Google Store.

It promised to clean all spaces multiple times a day, and limit the number of customers in the store at any one time.

“We will continue to closely follow the guidance of the local and national authorities to adapt our health and safety procedures as needed,” it said.

Risky retail

Google has previously utilised pop-up shops (sometimes located within other stores such as BestBuy) to showcase its products and gadgets, but has mostly relied on online sales over the years.

That said, back in March 2014 it was reported that Google was considering opening a physical shop in a trendy Manhattan neighbourhood, in order to showcase its range of products and services. Google at the time was said to be “near to signing a lease at 131 Greene Street.”

But the bricks and mortar approach has been tried before and failed.

Microsoft for example operated 83 stores around the world, which included three flagship stores in New York City (Fifth Ave), Sydney (Westfield Sydney), and the Redmond campus location.

It also opened a store in the prime retail location of Oxford Circus (on Regent Street) in 2019.

But in June 2020 Microsoft announced it was permanently closing its 83 Microsoft Store locations because it found its online sales were growing and that it was better able to serve customers online instead of in stores.

The software giant did however say it would “reimagine spaces that serve all customers, including operating Microsoft Experience Centers in London, NYC, Sydney, and Redmond campus locations.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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