Google’s retail stores – coming to a trendy neighborhood near you?

Rumors about Google opening its own retail stores have been swirling for some time. The latest has the giant Internet company planning its first permanent brick-and-mortar outlet in a trendy section of Manhattan’s SoHo district.

That’s according to Crane’s New York Business, which reports that its unnamed sources say Google is close to signing a lease for an 8,000-square-foot space on Greene Street, which Crane’s describes as a hot new neighborhood for “high-end shops and shoppers alike.”

Google’s known for its Internet software and services, of course, but it’s increasingly promoting a variety of consumer gadgets that use its Android and Chrome operating systems. The company has already experimented with Google-brand sales counters within national retail chains like Best Buy, and it also sponsored a series of “Winter Wonderlabs” pop-up stores during the last holiday shopping season.

And then there are those mysterious barges, which Google says it plans to use for showing off new technology. There’s been some speculation about whether they might also serve as high-end retail outlets for Google Glass or other gadgets.

Tech blog 9to5Google has been reporting for some time that Google had intentions of opening its own stores, similar to those pioneered by Apple, which developed a highly successful model that Microsoft has also tried to emulate.

A report in Fortune, however, offers a different take. The magazine says its own sources confirmed that Google has been looking for a commercial property on Greene Street. But Fortune quotes a retail analyst, Forrester’s Sucharita Mulpuru, who suggests the space might be better used as a sort of Google “museum” for showing off all kinds of technology, from Glass and smartwatches to the highspeed Google Fiber Internet service and even self-driving cars.

That might make it something like a land-based version of the barge, Mulpuru suggests.

 (Image from Google Maps shows storefront that Google’s reportedly considering for its first retail store)



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