Google to build standalone retail stores

Apparently brick-and-mortar and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) are not mutually exclusive.

According to "an extremely reliable source" speaking to 9to5Google's Seth Weintraub, the Internet search engine-cum-online-video leader (via YouTube) is "in the process of building standalone retail stores in the U.S. and hopes to have the first flagship Google Stores open for the holidays in major metropolitan areas."

To an extent, it's a model with which Google is already working, employing Chrome Stores inside Best Buys in the United States and PCWorld/Dixon's in the U.K. In those stores, they have Google-trained employees demonstrating Chromebooks and answering consumer questions.

Google's competitors Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) also have their own stores to explain their products and sell their services But both of those companies are more hardware-based, while the majority of Google's wares are in the ether.

Google has been slowly migrating to a hardware model, what with the Nexus tablet and the forever-on-the-drawing board Google TV and even the nascent Google Fiber, which, of course, could benefit from a storefront approach. The most recent Google innovation, Google Glass, is also something that could benefit from a brick-and-mortar environment.

"The leadership [at Google] thought consumers would need to try Google Glass first hand to make a purchase," Weintraub wrote. "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."

If Google needs a push to go forward, Apple can deliver it, Weintraub concluded, noting that Apple CEO Tim Cook recently told analysts the company would not have been as successful launching iPad without having stores.

"It gives Apple an incredible competitive advantage," he said, before cautioning, "[o]thers have found out it's not so easy to replicate."

Google, if all goes according to plan, should be the next to learn.

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