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 Standard reports: “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.