Google spent a significant part of its I/O developer keynote explaining the virtues of Google Shopping, its online portal designed to compete with Amazon and give retailers a way to reach more people. Practically simultaneously, Google also announced that it is opening an actual, physical retail store in New York City.
The Google Store, as it's called, is opening this summer in the same giant Chelsea building that Google uses as its NYC headquarters. It will sell Google's increasingly large set of hardware: Fitbits, Nest Cams, Pixel phones, Chromebooks and more. It will also be a place for shoppers to pick up things they bought online and learn how to use them. Plus, Google experts will be around to help people fix their broken stuff.
Does this all sound like an Apple Store? It should. It's basically an exact copy of the Apple Store. (Which buyers will be able to see for themselves, since there's an Apple Store right down the street from the Google location.) Google's hardly the first to try and run Apple's playbook: Microsoft has spent years copying Apple's retail strategy, right down to store locations, and even Amazon in recent years has made big moves into physical retail. Retail is both a huge business and a good branding move for Apple, so it's no surprise to see other companies try and get in on the brick-and-mortar fun. And with omni-channel shopping becoming part of everyday life for many buyers, Google's likely to experiment a lot with meshing the digital and physical worlds of shopping.