Technology firms have taken very diverse paths into retail through the years. In the case of Amazon, it was an e-commerce giant that went searching for tech products to sell. It has done so with mixed success.
Apple, which has always had tangible products to sell, now has 511 stores worldwide. So popular are these sleek stores that it is often hard to get a sales clerk’s attention. Minimalist fixtures and product displays lure customers like moths to a porch light.
In contrast, Microsoft, which has primarily been a software company, had little to sell aside from other people’s computers running their products. This time last year, Microsoft had 116 stores, but announced they would close all of them and just focus on digital sales. That makes sense given that software downloads and cloud access are how we do things today.
When A Noun Is A Verb
Then there is Google. It started out as a search engine company and then turned advertising platform, but has also slowly added tangible products. Its store in New York City just opened, and features their array of phones, thermostats, and laptops.
And you have to wonder how it will do compared to the other tech giants.
We must remember that while Google has made big investments in tangible products of late, its primary revenue stream is from ads placed on its digital platforms. While it may share duopoly standing with Apple for cell phone operating systems, Google’s Android appears primarily on other people’s phones, not theirs.
Making The Transition
It’s a tough transition from software to hardware and then retail. Microsoft learned this the hard way. Amazon has had hits and misses. Apple is the most successful because their history is all about innovative products. The software that Apple does create, like its versions of Microsoft office products, are simply included on their devices. I doubt that anyone would ever buy Pages, Numbers, or Keynote as standalone products.
While the Google Store will no doubt be crowded with curiosity seekers, I am not convinced just yet that Google should bet the company on building more of these stores. Apple knows a lot about retail, as does Amazon, even if it is online. Microsoft knew nothing about retail, and it showed. Google is in the same camp, even if they actually have some products to sell.
To be honest, when I read about the Google Store, I instantly thought of it as just a brick-and-mortar search engine. You know. A room filled with reference librarians you could consult with an audio search query, and then be given results and a bunch of ads.
Sounds good to me. “Oh, and here’s a thermostat. Shall I wrap it up for you?”
Thanks, But No Thanks
I’m giving this a hard pass. Sure, I would go in just to check it out, but as far as I am concerned, Google is a software application company first and foremost. Peddle your products online or through other vendors, and realize that just like Microsoft and Amazon, you are implicitly imitating Apple.
And imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Look it up.
Dr “No Sale“ Gerlich