Forbes, Business Insider, and other sites are reporting that Google just opened its first retail location. It's renting space inside a PC World store for a Google Store, a "store within a store", where Google techs will sell and demo Chrome and Android devices.
If that sounds strangely familiar, it should. That more or less sums up the Chromezone store within a store which Google opened in September 2011 in a PC World retail store, and it also describes the dozens of similar stores Google has been running in the past 4 years.
9to5Google, London Evening Standard, and a bunch of other sites reported on the story back in 2011. From what I read now, that first store was in every way a retail location where you could indeed buy Google tech (by paying PC World, of course).
It looked like this:
Update: And guess what? A first hand account on Twitter tells us that the store which launched this week isn't even a real store; it's just a demo area. So the new store functions exactly the sme as what Google opened 4 years ago.
I can't tell you why that earlier story slipped by the attention of so many sites, but so far as I can tell the only real difference between the 2011 store and the 2015 store is the devices carried. The new store carries smartwatches, Chromebooks, Android tablets, the Chromecast, and other Google devices (a lot of which didn't exist four years ago).
The 2011 store (and the other stores opened in the subsequent 4 years) carried fewer items.
Also, the names were different (Chromezone vs Google Store), and the new store has a nifty looking mechanical wall in the display window:
If anyone can detail a difference between the older and newer stores which would explain how the newer store counts as a first, I would deeply appreciate it. (I am honestly confused by the reports.)
P.S. On a related note, does anyone know if Google launched the standalone retail stores which rumors said would appear in 2013? and then again in 2014? I don't recall reading about a launch, but then again I don't follow Google that closely.