Google Opens First Retail Store – In 2011

Google Opens First Retail Store - In 2011 Google Retail There's a story going around this week that Google just opened its first retail stores, but I'm not sure how accurate that is.

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:

Google Opens First Retail Store - In 2011 Google Retail

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:

Google Opens First Retail Store - In 2011 Google Retail

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.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

8 Comments

  1. Basem13 March, 2015

    I visited the Chromezone a few times in the exact place they are opening the store – it was a section in PC World that sold Chromebooks and Chromeboxes. Essentially, in the Chromezone, you would be purchasing Chrome OS devices from PC World. This Google store is still in the same store but think it is expanded to included a larger area to showcase a wider selection of Google related products & services, along with Chrome OS devices. I am not too sure if you would make the purchase directly via Google or PC World; judging Google are taking a large area of the store, then my hunch is that some agreement has been reached to sell the goods via PC World. I am looking forward to visit the store soon, so will have a better idea then.

    Reply
  2. puzzled13 March, 2015

    “I can’t tell you why that earlier story slipped by the attention of so many sites”

    Well clearly, journalists don’t know how to Google…

    Reply
  3. […] Google Tests Physical Retail…Again (Ink, Bits & Pixels) Google dips its toes into physical retail with a new shop nested inside an electronics retailer in London, where customers can test out Google devices. One observer points out the company tried a similar initiative in 2011. […]

    Reply
  4. fjtorres13 March, 2015

    Maybe the Chromezone demanded its right to be forgotten.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder13 March, 2015

      Heh

      That wouldn’t explain why no one remembers the stores in best Buy and other chains.

      Reply
  5. frmorrison13 March, 2015

    The previous two stores were indeed Chromezones in 2011. Someone made a Wikipedia article about it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrome_Zone

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder13 March, 2015

      There were more than two, I think.

      Reply
  6. […] Nate Hoffelder pointed out on Friday, this story then got rewritten as “Google’s first retail store” in March 2015 […]

    Reply

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