If you ask Londoners what the biggest news in tech last week was, chances are, most people would probably tell you in a heartbeat — “Apple Watch!”
Not many know, however, that Apple’s fellow Silicon Valley buddy — Google — also had a small-scale launch party of their own.
So what exactly did they launch? It’s not just a single product. Instead, it’s a plethora of tangible products. Or rather, it’s a hardware retail space that houses those products. Google’s first ever physical retail store: the Google Shop.
Being the tech-savvy(ish) geeks at heart that we are, of course we had to check out the store right away.
Without further ado…
Teleporting activated. Destination:145-149 Tottenham Court Road
London W1T 7NE
Once you get close, do not — I repeat — do not look for a “Google” sign within sight. You most likely won’t find it at this point. Look for “Currys” instead. That’s right, that’s where Google’s retail space is currently popping up in. A little shop share project that is sure to benefit the “sub-landlord” in more ways than one.
Now, let’s take a tour around, shall we?
As soon as you step into the Currys, you’ll almost immediately notice Google’s human-sized Doodle Wall. By now we are all pretty familiar with the topical Google Doodles on its homepage. What’s special about this real-time digital one, is that everyone gets to create their own — with a wireless motion-tracking “spray can”. You can even capture and save your innovative creation afterwards.
We have seen some extraordinarily creative Doodles during our stay, which we won’t be able to share them all here unfortunately.
It’s as if Google knows what we are thinking, “Hmm, we could sure use a caffeine fix right about now!”
Then, boom! Amidst all the state-of-the-art technical “toys”, an old-school yet fancy coffee cart catches our eye effortlessly.
There is also an open photo “booth” around the corner, tucked between the home theater and the shopfront’s Google glass wall. You can choose between filters, and email the resulting pictures to yourself.
While one could technically (pun intended) spend all night here playing with the cool “toys”, there comes a time when one really needs to collect accompanying friends and call it a wrap.
By the way, as we are visiting during opening week, many aspects of this “field trip” feel a lot like what one would experience at a tech expo. For one, you get a swag bag!
We would imagine that all this freebies-driven (coffee, swag, and what have you) expo heat would die down a little as time goes by. The shop space itself, nevertheless, is here to stay for a while.
Our thoughts — This being Google’s experimental launch in one of the world’s busiest cities, we couldn’t help but think that the under-hype was actually all part of the plan. It might be set up this way to answer questions such as, “Let’s see how much traffic we can generate with almost zero organic advertisement!”
After all, Google is one of the pioneers and leaders in data science. We wouldn’t be surprised if they were to roll out other campaigns to target this location at different stages, just to collect data on how the public would react accordingly.
Just our theoretical speculations, anyway.
What we do know for sure now, is that Google already has plans down the road to launch similar (and possibly bigger) retail stores in other parts of England, and beyond.
Have you had a chance to visit this first ever Google Shop yourself? What do you think of it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.