Yesterday (March 11), Google opened its first-ever branded store location in London, England (pictured above).
As I discussed the store with my co-workers, we were a little skeptical of it being Google's "first" physical store ever, as we recalled an "Androidland" store in Australia a few years back and subsequent pop-up stores for Chromecast as well. In any case, this is likely the first across-the-board Google store for all of its devices and services -- the company's answer to Apple stores, if you will.
Google 'Play': The new 'Google shop' is more of a destination than strictly a place of commerce.
In fact, it's not actually a standalone store; it's a store-within-a-store. The "Google shop" is located within Currys PC World on the technology hub of London's Tottenham Court Road.
"The Google shop will offer customers the chance to sample Google’s range of Android phones and tablets, Chromebook laptops and Chromecasts and learn about how they work together, from one device to the next, to make users’ lives as seamless as possible," the company said in a statement (March 11).
The store's objective is in line with my colleague Alen Puaca's notion of stores as "destinations" more than being strictly places of commerce.
Google says visitors "will have the chance to play" with Google tools and apps, with interactive installations featuring Google Earth, a "Doodle Wall" (see above photo, to the left) which uses digital spray cans and allows for social sharing of sketches, and a "Chromecast Pod" for viewing Google Play movies, YouTube and more.
Google also ascribes to Puaca's concept of stores as social/community-building hubs: The Google shop will host regular classes and events for the public.
"Classes will range from how to keep secure online and simply learning how devices work, to understanding how different devices work together to enable a more connected lifestyle," the company wrote.
Google wants to educate the public on its products and services, hosting regular classes and worshops in-store.
"'Virtual Space Camps' will be offered to teach children the basics of coding and teachers will be invited to 'Open House' events, to keep up to speed on the free educational tools on offer from Google."
To see what the new Google shop looks like from the inside, check out Business Insider's 21-shot slideshow.
Beyond its new brick-and-mortar footprint, Google also announced a new website yesterday (store.google.com) to sell phones, tablets, laptops and connected devices like its Nest thermostats.
"The move separates Google's efforts to sell hardware from its Google Play store, which is used to sell software like mobile apps, movies and music," wrote CNET's Richard Nieva (March 11).