Google Retail Stores? Makes Sense.

Google might be planning to open standalone retail stores in the United States, where it can show off its Nexus phones and tablets, Chromebooks and other creations.

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Andrew Kelly / Reuters

The Google signage is seen at the company's headquarters in New York January 8, 2013.

Google might be planning to open standalone retail stores in the United States, where it can show off its Nexus phones and tablets, Chromebooks and other creations.

9to5Google’s Seth Weintraub cites an “extremely reliable source,” who claims the stores will open in major metropolitan areas in time for the holidays:

The mission of the stores is to get new Google Nexus, Chrome, and especially upcoming products into the hands of prospective customers. Google feels right now that many potential customers need to get hands-on experience with its products before they are willing to purchase. Google competitors Apple and Microsoft both have retail outlets where customers can try before they buy.

Weintraub says Google came up with the idea while planning Project Glass, as the company reportedly wants to have a venue where it can show off its high-tech glasses, along with other futuristic projects such as driverless cars.

But in the short term, at least, I imagine this is more about Google’s Nexus-branded¬†Android devices than anything else. Most wireless carriers don’t sell Google’s latest phone, the Nexus 4, so there’s really nowhere people can go to learn about the benefits of buying an unlocked, stock Android handset, while also getting hands-on time. Nexus tablets could also use a place where they’re front and center, not just lined up next to countless other slates. If Google wants the Nexus brand to go mainstream, retail stores seem like a logical step.

That said, the far-out stuff like Project Glass and self-driving cars would help get people in the door.