Google to add first stand-alone retail shop in Dublin

Since when did opening up a retail store become so sexy? First Apple opened its chain, which has grown to include more than 300 stores, then Amazon was reported to be opening a store in Seattle, and now Google?

Google’s European headquarters are located in Dublin, which has recently become a hot spot for companies looking to expand. The company’s largest location outside of the US, Google Ireland submitted a local planning application for more than 1,300 square feet of retail space. Plans were approved earlier this year for the stand-alone store, which would be the first of its kind for Google, and would sell unspecified “Google merchandise”.
 
The Internet giant first entered the brick and mortar retail market in late 2011, when it opened a trial store inside of the Dixons Retail-owned Currys-PC World electronics shop in London. The effort was an experiment in selling laptop computers running the company’s Chromebook operating system. The Daily Telegraph reported the stores were successful enough that Google opened two more, one in Bristol and one in Birmingham. (Google also has a store at its headquarters in California that sells company merchandise, but it’s not open to the public. In addition, it has an online store selling Google-branded items such as t-shirts and pens.)
 
Google remains coy about its future retail plans. It has gone on record with the email statement, “While we do have the option to open retail space, we are examining all potential uses. … No final decision has been taken.”
 
While observers are perhaps jumping the gun on the significance of a potential single store opening, it does beg the question: Why would Google open a store in Dublin? I can think of at least a couple of reasons behind the decision to do so.
 
It’s no secret that Google is experiencing rather fierce competition from Apple, a company that has more than a head start in the retail arena. Google’s new Google Music product is a direct response to Apple’s iTunes, but has so far failed to meet expectations.  While Google’s main source of revenue is advertising, it is working to diversify its revenue stream. If it wants to sell products and services beyond advertising, it makes sense to focus on developing an internal supply chain to do so, and retail operations are a step in that direction.
 
With its Andriod operating system, Google has become the world’s largest maker of smartphone operating software, and is finalizing its acquisition of handset maker Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. Google is also entering the manufacturing business with a consumer electronic device that streams music throughout the home. Why not test the waters by creating a retail space that could eventually sell its Android-powered phones, as well as any other products it may manufacture in the future?
 
Meanwhile, while Google is looking at retail, just today we learn that Apple is looking at search. I suppose what they say is true…the grass is always greener on the other side.
Amy Schein

Amy Schein is an Industry Specialist at First Research, where she covers various aspects of the media industry. She earned her BS and MA in media studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Follow Amy on Twitter.

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