Breaking News Bar
posted: 2/23/2013 8:22 AM

Is Google ripping off Apple by opening own stores?

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Google reportedly is working on plans for a string of Apple-like retail stores, presumably as showcases for the company's mobile devices, among other products.

      Google reportedly is working on plans for a string of Apple-like retail stores, presumably as showcases for the company's mobile devices, among other products.
    File photo

 
By Will Oremus, Slate

Steve Jobs must be going thermonuclear in his grave.

According to Walter Isaacson's biography, the late Apple chief was so incensed at Google over its Android mobile operating system -- a "stolen product," in his eyes -- that he was willing to risk everything to destroy it. Instead, Android has captured 70 percent of the global smartphone market.

Now the Wall Street Journal, following the blog 9to5Google, reports that Google is working on plans for a string of Apple-like retail stores, presumably as showcases for the company's mobile devices, among other products.

The move would make sense on multiple levels. Apple Stores not only serve as the company's public face, they also make piles of money -- more per square foot than any retail chain in the United States. And the stores' famed customer service reinforces brand loyalty. As long as Google was mainly just making software to run on other companies' phones, those things didn't matter very much. Now that the company is working closely with hardware manufacturers to develop its own smartphones, tablets, laptops and even home entertainment systems, a Google Store would have plenty to stock its shelves.

The irony, though, is that Google still wouldn't need to steal this particular Apple idea if it were just in the business of making Apple knockoffs. Customers don't need a high-touch retail experience to understand why they might want to buy an Android phone. All they need is a side-by-side comparison of Android and iPhone prices and features.

Rather, it's the company's foray into genuinely innovative hardware that would make retail stores a necessity. Chromebooks are one example. The company has already set up Google kiosks in Best Buy to explain to customers the value of these ultra-simple laptops, which have no direct corollary in Apple's lineup. But the most compelling reason of all to open a Google Store, as 9to5Google points out, might be Google Glass.

The leadership thought consumers would need to try Google Glass firsthand to make a purchase. Without being able to use them first hand, few non-techies would be interested in buying Google's glasses (which will retail from between $500 to $1,000). From there, the decision to sell other Google-branded products made sense.

Along with Glass, Google will have an opportunity to demonstrate other upcoming and Google X projects like driverless cars and mini-drone delivery systems at its stores.

If Google follows through on its retail plans, it may indeed be another sign that it is studying Apple's playbook for building a brand, as the Wall Street Journal has it. But more importantly, it will be a sign that Google's hardware playbook has sprouted some fresh tricks of its own -- potentially, the type of groundbreaking, category-defining devices that made Jobs and Apple worth ripping off in the first place.

Google's stock, by the way, recently reached a new high, clearing $800 for the first time.

• Oremus is the lead blogger for Future Tense, reporting on emerging technologies, tech policy and digital culture.

Share

Interested in reusing this article?

Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.

The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.

Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Name * Company Telephone * E-mail *

Message (optional)

Success - Reprint request sent Click to close
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    help here