When Steve Jobs announced that he wanted to open a chain of retail stores to sell Apple products, just about everyone thought he had gone insane. His critics said it would never work, and the company should keep its focus on building hardware. Jobs proved everyone wrong and Apple's retail success has played a huge role in the company's recent ascent.
Now it seems that another tech giant has plans to follow in Apple's footsteps, as Google (GOOG) appears to be preparing to open its own chain of stores.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Google is currently developing plans to begin opening retail stores in the U.S. As of now, Google has yet to confirm or deny the rumors, but people familiar with the matter report that retail locations will be a reality in the not-too-distant future. It may not happen this year, but it would not be too surprising to see new stores open in the next 18 to 24 months.
The move would come as Google dives deeper into the mobile devices market. Last year it completed its acquisition of Motorola Mobility, but Motorola devices are just a small part of what Google would be able to put on display in retail stores.
Unlike Apple stores, which feature just Apple devices, Google stores would have a lot of merchandise for users to play around with. In addition to all the various Android phones and tablets that it could display, the company has also been working on the development of home-entertainment systems as well.
Retail stores would give the company a platform to show off Google TV software, the highly anticipated Google Glass computing device people will wear on their face, and Chromebook laptops.
Apple retail stores proved one thing… it is easier to sell a high-dollar item when users are able to touch and feel the product before purchasing it. Microsoft (MSFT) has already been opening its own stores, but it does not disclose its retail numbers so it is hard to gauge the level of success it is finding in the retail market.
For Google, it seems a very logical, and smart decision to open stores across the U.S. The company is investing big money in moving into hardware, and it needs a way to get new devices into users' hands.
Not every tech company can duplicate Apple's retail store success, but if there ever was a company that could do it, it is Google. I, for one, look forward to the day I can walk into a Google store to play around with all the cool toys it has on display.
Michael Fowlkes is a financial writer who has been with the Fresh Brewed Media family since 2004. Over the course of his tenure with Fresh Brewed Media, he has worn many hats, including portfolio manager, options analyst, and writer. Michael received his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in Accounting and got his start in finance working as a stock trader for six years at Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Va. His articles typically cover big-picture events and forecasting what impact they will have on the stock market. In addition to writing for Fresh Brewed Media, Michael also wrote for AOL's BloggingStocks for three years, focusing most of his attention on the energy and technology sectors. Follow him on Twitter at @MFatMICenter.