Looks like Google will open its own retail stores this year

Google reportedly plans to open several retail locations in the United States before the end of 2013, a move that would better position the company’s products against Apple and Microsoft.

The decision to add a retail presence, which was first posted by 9to5Google, would give Google a direct outlet for selling products like its Nexus phones and tablets and its Chromebook laptops. It could also provide a place to educate consumers about Android and help customers that have problems with their Android phones.

If 9to5Google’s reporting is correct, Google hopes to have its first flagship Google Stores open just in time for the holiday season at the end of 2013. Naturally, Google will focus on opening up shop in “major metropolitan areas.”

It at least has a little experience in physical retail. Google has been testing a retail presence inside hundreds of Best Buy locations in the United States with its Chromebook displays, so it may have learned a few lessons from that.
Clearly the move is meant to counter Apple, which has had tremendous success with its retail operations. Apple currently has 400 stores in 12 countries, and it plans to open another 30 stores this year.

Microsoft also followed Apple’s retail lead in the past few years by opening several stores through the United States and Canada. The company opened 51 “full-line” (large retail locations) and “specialty” stores in 2012, and said it will open six more stores in early 2013. Those stores aren’t always staffed by the most friendly people, but at least they’ve got a direct line to consumers who might need help with Windows or Windows Phone devices.