Google opens its first physical store in New York

The main checkout desk at Google's new store in New York
(Image credit: Google Blog)

Google has offered a peek inside its first physical retail store, which is due to open in New York's Chelsea borough on Thursday.

It's pitched as an Apple-like store to serve as a physical storefront for its Pixel phones, Chromebooks, and Nest gadgets, on sale.

This will be Google's first permanent fixture, having previously only supported temporary "pop-up" shops, and will be based near its New York headquarters.

The initial decision was seen as somewhat surprising given that, unlike Apple, hardware only makes up a fraction of Google's overall revenue, with more than 80% coming from digital advertising.

Spaces to test and experience Google hardware at its New York store

(Image credit: Google Blog)

However, the store will also double as a place for consumers to learn more about Google, its products, and its services, as well as offering the tech giant a chance to understand its own users. The store will have spaces for consumers to try out its devices and services and see how they work together, including dedicated spaces for customers to test hardware features, such as the night mode function on Pixel devices.

The stores will also offer after-sales support, such as screen repairs and tutorials, where users will be able to book appointments to learn more about their Google account and services, such as ChromeOS or Gmail.

The sales desk and 'imagination space' at the Google Store New York

There will also be a 17-foot glass structure, described as an "imagination space", that will serve as a display area for future technology innovations. It will start with a Google Translate experience created by a Japanese artist, where customers can whisper a phrase and have it read back to them in 24 different languages.

Google's approach is similar to that of Microsoft, which opened its first US retail space in 2009 and would eventually open a total of 116 stores worldwide. Its first UK retail space opened in London's Oxford Circus in 2019, comprising a 21,932 square-foot store with free floors of "interactive space" where customers could test and experience Microsoft hardware and services.

However, in June 2020, Microsoft announced it would be closing all of its physical stores once coronavirus lockdown restrictions had been lifted. It also announced that four stores in London, New York, Redmond, and Sydney would remain open as "experience centres".

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognize him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.