Citing "an extremely reliable source," 9to5Google said last week that Google Inc. "hopes to have the first flagship Google Stores open for the holidays in major metropolitan areas."
The rumored move, news of which was picked up by several technology publications, would come as Google has branched into smartphones, tablets and laptop computers as well as software in recent years. Beyond supporting the brand's image, the stores would particularly enable Google to showcase its new products, Nexus tablets, Chromebooks, or even better position its Android-phone with partners.
Google already has set up Chrome mini-stores inside Best Buy in the U.S. and consumer electronic retailers in the U.K. Many reports pointed to Apple's advantage in being able to hype and let consumers try their products at their flagship stores. Microsoft also has recently been opening stores.
9to5Google's Seth Weintraub wrote that Google came up with the idea while planning Project Glass, Google's promised wearable glasses with built-in heads-up displays. Google X projects like driverless cars and mini-drone delivery systems would also benefit from being shown off at its stores.
Robert Hof, who covers advertising and the internet, believes the move makes sense.
"Many people simply aren't going to pop for a $200 phone or tablet, and especially a $500-and-up head-mounted display, without feeling it in their hands," he wrote on Forbes.com. "That's especially so when they know — or think they know, thanks to Apple's amazing marketing and product design — that they're buying what may not be the top-end products in the market."
Despite the rumor, a Google official in December indicated that the company had no plans to open a store and instead would focus in the area on providing offering tools to help retailers. Sameer Samat, Google Shopping's VP of product management, told All Things Digital, "We are trying to provide a level playing field for retailers."
How would you compare Google's opportunity in retail compared to Apple?