Google Store NYC Opening Tour 20C

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Currently, Apple has over 500 retail stores around the world. Microsoft had a number of stores (but only a handful now). Even Samsung had permanent retail locations before the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to shut them all down. However, Google has been happy with the online Google Store and some random pop-up facilities over the years.

See also: Google Buyer’s Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Google Hardware

That changed yesterday when Google finally opened its first permanent retail store. The store in a historic building in the Chelsea district of Manhattan is as colorful, daring and sustainably produced as its products.

However, Google’s big problem is filling the store with enough products to justify its existence. We’ll go into that later. First, let’s go through the basic store outline so you can get an idea of ​​what it’s all about without having to go to the Big Apple.

Everything revolves around the Google Store experience

Google Store NYC Opening Tour 17C

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

As soon as you walk in the door, Google wants you to know that this is not a normal store. Depending on which doors you enter, you will be offered different seating, toys, games and unique shopping experiences. You’ll also find some Google products in the middle.

Google Store NYC Opening Tour 2

One of the in-store experiences focuses on the night mode capabilities of Pixel phones. You enter a darkened room that is lit up like a night cityscape, with pixel smartphones on the walls. The phones take photos of you to show how Google’s photo algorithms make them pop. Upon exiting, you will be presented with a unique QR code on a screen that will allow you to download all of the photos the experience has just taken.

Another room has plush armchairs, wall-mounted TVs, and a slew of game controllers. This is the Stadia room where you can experience games without consoles or computer towers. Of course, every now and then your game will be interrupted by a Google representative asking if you need help – or reminding you that other people want to try the game, sir.

Another area is built like a living room. This room is designed to give you an idea of ​​how Google Nest products and the Google Assistant can make your home life easier. The automated system instructs you to give Assistant voice commands to do things like check who is at the door, change the temperature of the room, turn on the lights, etc.

Finally, there is a group room where you can just relax and chat with your friends, wait for your dad to buy his new phone, or get your job done.

However, underneath there is an Apple Store

Of course, the Google Store wouldn’t exist if there weren’t any products for sale. If you remove all of the experiences and lounge areas, you are essentially left with an Apple Store.

As with Apple, all Google products are arranged on tables throughout the store. The layout emphasizes the integration of all products, just like Apple does. If you want to buy something, just ask a representative as there are no registers – just like in an Apple Store.

There’s no Genius Bar here, but a Google equivalent. You can ask your current Google products for help or ask them about buying a new product. You can also buy things online for in-store pickup, which Apple has been doing for years.

Even the tables that contain all of the products look like rounded versions of the ones you would find in an Apple store.

Granted, an Apple Store won’t have anything like a Stadia room or a recreated living room interior. But those are aspects of this store that are uniquely connected to its flagship status. If Google planned to open Google Stores in other locations, they probably wouldn’t have all of these experiences. If that happened, the Google Store would look and feel a lot like an Apple Store.

This is not the worst thing in the world now. Apple’s retail strategy is clearly successful. Google just won’t win points for innovation when it comes to their retail space.

Can Google justify its existence?

Google Store Opening Tour in NYC Jan.

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

The big advantage I got when I left the Google Store was the repetition of the layout. On a table are some Pixel smartphones, a Pixelbook Go, a Nest Audio and maybe some Fitbit watches. At the next table, you would have the same products, but with a swapped Nest Hub Max. On another table, it would be the same products again, but with an emphasis on the Google Nest Wifi system.

It’s clear that Google just doesn’t have enough hardware to fill a store of this size. Apple has iMacs, iPads, MacBooks, Apple Watches, Apple TV boxes, and iPhones to fill the tables. Each table could only concentrate on one product. Then there are Beats headphones, AirPods, and accessories that can fill the wall space.

Google just doesn’t have enough material to fill this place, and it’s hard not to notice the lack of variety as you go from table to table. Obviously, over time, the company will have more and more things, be it from Nest, Fitbit, or its own branding. At the moment, however, Google has a long way to go before it can justify the existence of a comprehensive store experience with what little it has.

Regardless, if you find yourself in Chelsea, the Google Store is well worth a visit. It gives an accurate sense of how Google “feels” the moment you walk through the doors. However, if you just want to buy some Google products then the online store is for you.

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