Google has opened its first physical retail outlet that is open to the general public, situating it on London's Tottenham Court Road.
The company has had a shop before, but that was within its own campus in California. The new store, which opened on Monday on a street well-known for its technology outlets, is the first attempt to give the public a chance to get hands-on with Google Chromebooks in a real-world retail environment.
Photo credit: Bill Friar
Google's store is not a standalone property, but a 'Chrome Zone' section within the Currys and PC World shop on Tottenham Court Road.
"The Chrome Zone is designed to be as open, colourful and user-friendly as possible, and there are seating areas for shoppers to enable them to try out Chromebooks in comfort," Google said in a statement.
Chromebooks such as Samsung's Series 5 are cloud-centric devices that resemble normal laptops, but that rely on near-constant internet connectivity to support the web-based applications they run.
The experience of using a Chromebook is unusual for those used to the standard desktop model, and Google hopes more people will buy into the new way of doing things if they get to try it out first. This has previously been difficult to do, as the devices were only available online from Amazon and PC World.
According to Arvind Desikan, Google UK's head of consumer marketing at Google UK, the company had "found anecdotally that when people tried the [Chromebook] and played with it, that made a huge difference to their understanding of what the Chromebook is all about".
"People will be able to go in and have a play with the devices. We want to see whether people understand what this device is all about and monitor their reaction when they try it out," Desikan is quoted in London's Evening Standard as saying.
In its statement, Google said "specially trained Chromebook experts will be on hand to offer guidance and advice to shoppers".
According to the Evening Standard, an Essex 'pop-up' store will follow on 7 October and, over the coming months, more pilot shops will appear globally.