Google set to open its own retail stores this year, report says

google storeWith its Chrome laptop computers and, more recently, Nexus tablets, many have wondered why Google hasn’t followed Apple, Microsoft and others in opening a chain of retail stores showcasing its products.

According to a 9to5Google report over the weekend, it seems the Mountain View company may actually be gearing up to open some brick-and-mortar locations. Sources described as “extremely reliable” (so not your usual, plain old “reliable”, then) told the website the company is “in the process of building stand-alone retail stores in the US and hopes to have the first flagship Google Stores open for the holidays in major metropolitan areas.”

The company is apparently keen to give consumers the chance to go hands-on with its range of products, especially with the expected launch of Google Glass possibly some time next year.

Executives at the company reportedly feel that with a new product like this, it’s essential consumers have a chance to try it out for themselves to better appreciate its capabilities. 9to5Google compares the situation to when Apple introduced the iPad, with Tim Cook recently telling analysts that the Cupertino company’s retail stores were key to the tablet’s success.

“I don’t think we would have been nearly as successful with iPad if it weren’t for our stores,” Cook said. “It gives Apple an incredible competitive advantage. Others have found out it’s not so easy to replicate. We’re going to continue to invest like crazy. The average store last year was over 50 million in revenue.”

Chome Zone

As for Google, it’s not totally new to the idea of operating retail stores – it’s actually been dabbling in the field for some time with a number of store-within-a-store set-ups, beginning with the Chrome Zone that opened inside a PC World store in central London in late 2011. In the US, some Best Buy stores are hosting Chrome Zones too. Staffed by Google-trained employees, the stores enable the company to better communicate information about its products and services while giving consumers an opportunity to get hands-on with its tech offerings.

9to5Google’s report also suggests the company could sell its Google-branded merchandise in the new stores, though the source (the extremely reliable one) hadn’t actually mentioned this possibility.

And imagine – if the locations were large enough, Google might even be able to squeeze in one of its self-driving cars. While it’s unlikely it would be seen trundling around the shop floor, it could nevertheless be a focal point for visitors to the store, giving employees the chance to explain more about the technology, as well as about other projects and initiatives being undertaken by the company.

[Image: Mike Harris]

Product Review

It's not the sharpest tool, but the Surface Go does it all for $400

Microsoft has launched the $400 Surface Go to take on both the iPad and Chromebooks, all without compromising its core focus on productivity. Does it work as both a tablet and a PC?
Gaming

Where we droppin’ (presents)? Perfect ‘Fortnite’ gifts for the fans in your life

Chances are someone on your holiday shopping list is a fan of Fortnite. As the most popular game on the planet, there are plenty of Fortnite-themed gift options available for purchase in stores and online. Here are the best ones we found.
Smart Home

Amazon shows off compact cashier-free store that could show up at airports

Amazon is testing its smallest Amazon Go store to date as it considers taking the grab-and-go technology to new venues such as airports and train stations. The compact store is a quarter the size of its current locations.
Computing

Microsoft’s Chromium Edge browser may be adding your Chrome extensions

Fans sticking to Google Chrome because due to its vast extension library might be able to switch over to Microsoft's latest iteration of Edge, as a project manager confirms that the company has its eyes on Chrome extensions.
Mobile

The Galaxy A8s is Samsung's first with a hole-punch camera cutout

Samsung is building exciting, technologically innovative midrange phones, and the latest to be revealed is the new Samsung Galaxy A8s, which may give us an idea of what the new Samsung Galaxy S10 will look like.
Mobile

The best smartphone stocking stuffers for a very techy Christmas

If you've got a tech-loving smartphone enthusiast to buy for, we can help you out. Here's a selection of top phone accessories that would make amazing stocking stuffers so you can have a very Merry Christmas.
Product Review

The Black Shark gaming phone takes a big bite out of your free time, but the software sinks it

The world is being treated to an ever-increasing number of high-powered gaming phones. With so many great options already out, is there room for another? The Black Shark thinks so. But is it any good? We find out.
Mobile

OnePlus's 5G phone should arrive in May 2019, may cost up to $850

OnePlus will be among the first companies to put the new Snapdragon 855 processor into a phone, and will also release a separate and more expensive 5G phone in 2019 with the help of U.K. network EE.
Mobile

Santa Claus is coming to town. Get ready with these Christmas apps

Like it or not, Christmas comes but once a year. Thankfully, we've got a list of the best Christmas apps to help get you into the holiday spirit, just in case you want to call Santa or become a Christmas elf.
Gaming

Xiaomi’s Gamepad 2.0 turns the Black Shark into a mini Switch

Chinese phone manufacturer Xiaomi has introduced the Gamepad 2.0 for its Black Shark gaming phone that launched earlier this year. The new gamepad is similar to the Switch Joy-Con, with one piece attaching to each side of the phone.
Mobile

Google makes it easy to donate to charity straight through the Play Store

As we head into the holiday season, Google announced a new feature on Google Play that makes it a little easier to donate to charity. Through the new page, you'll be able to choose from a range of charities to donate to.
Wearables

These are the best smartwatches for everything from fashion to fitness

Tempted to buy a smartwatch? If so, then the growing number of great models available means you've got plenty to choose from. But which one should you pick? Here is our list of the best smartwatches.
Mobile

The Galaxy S10 may be announced before MWC, sell for up to $1,750

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Mobile

The LG V40 ThinQ, G7 ThinQ, and Watch W7 are discounted for the holidays

LG announced a series of deals for the holiday season where you can buy the company's two flagship phones, the V40 ThinQ and G7 ThinQ, as well as its latest smartwatch, for between $150 and $200 off, depending on the device.