The hopes of many tech bloggers were dashed today by the news that Google SVP Andy Rubin can't see why the tech giant should get into retail.
An extremely reliable source has confirmed to us that Google is in the process of building stand-alone retail stores in the U.S. and hopes to have the first flagship Google Stores open for the holidays in major metropolitan areas.
And from the WSJ:
Google Inc. has been developing plans to launch retail stores in the U.S., said people familiar with the matter, in another sign the company is studying Apple Inc.'s playbook for building a consumer-electronics brand.
The stores would likely sell Google-branded hardware, these people said. But it isn't clear when or where any stores would open, and one of the people said the Internet giant might not move forward with the plan this year.
If what Andy Rubin said today is any indication, both of those rumors are nothing but a load of bollocks. Mr. Rubin is in Barcelona this week for Mobile World Congress,and while he was participating in a roundtable he was asked about the retail stores.
He doesn't think consumers need stores anymore. “They don’t have to go in the store and feel it anymore,” Mr. Rubin said. He went on to add that Google's Google hardware efforts were still in their infancy. “For Nexus, I don’t think the program is far enough along to think about the necessity of having these things in a retail store,” he said. And he was quite clear on the issue: “Google has no plans and we have nothing to announce,” he said.
I for one didn't believe the rumors. This struck me as being about as plausible as the rumor last year that Amazon would launch retail stores. And we know what came of that rumor.
Frankly I didn't see what Google would gain in exchange for the headache of managing a retail chain - not even a small one. Any product demos or explanations could almost as easily be posted to Youtube, support would be handled online anyway, and the claim that consumers want to touch before they buy simply isn't supported by the success that any number of Android tablets are having right now.