For a $1,500 prototype that has received largely negative early reviews, Google Glass is the source of lots of heated speculation. The latest is a very vague rumor first reported in Business Insider that Google is considering creating a chain of dedicated Google Glass stores.
We've seen numerous rumors these past few months regarding Google's plans to open dedicated Google stores in time for the holiday rush. The theoretical stores would offer all types of Google products such as Chromebooks, Nexus tablets and phones, or maybe even some of those discontinued Nexus Qs to use as stylish paper weights (that last part is just a guess on my part).
Google has officially denied these rumors, but they never seem to die down. However, if you think about it, a dedicated Glass store would make sense both for Google and for consumers.
The retail outlet store as church
First up, if Glass is going to be a competitive must-have toy for the upcoming holiday season, the price is going to have to come down. And it will. However, it's unlikely that the domestically produced Glass will be available in the near future without a serious financial investment.
Like most high-end electronics, Glass will not be an impulse buy. For these purchases, dedicated stores like those for Apple or Microsoft make sense as consumers know what they want before they leave their home. For their part, the big dedicated brand electronic stores can offer consumers access to a brand's full line of products and a more knowledgeable staff than a national chain.
Even though these top-shelf electronic items are available at other locations, consumers have shown a willingness to make the pilgrimage to these dedicated multi-level outlets. But consumers flocking to these branded stores for a better point-of-sale experience is only part of the story.
Consumer electronics are not just things you can plug into a wall, they are cultural signifiers. From Google's standpoint, an official store can help brand itself as a futuristic movement with a physical, tangible location for adherents to gather. A dedicated Google store could be a central cathederal for the Cult of Glass to congregate.
A place to avoid the clusterf*&ck
And like any megachurch, all would be welcome in these Google outlets. That's exactly why from a consumer's viewpoint, a dedicated Glass store will be a welcome addition in their city.
Glass is a brand new thing that consumers are excited about. While most will not be able to afford it, lots of people will want to check them out. (I sure do, but I'm a near middle aged white dude, so that goes without saying.) Glass will attract a lot of lookie-loos who have no actual plans to buy one, but just want to see what the hubbub is about (that's probably me as well).
Going into an electronics store just to play with things that you have no plans to actually buy is as American as the Super Bowl. We all do it. And the rush to play-with-but-not-buy Glass will be HUGE. A dedicated electronics store like Best Buy will still gladly offer Glass, but will only be willing to give up so much floor space during the holiday rush filled with all the other must-have new things.
A dedicated Google Store could be that destination place to go play with Glass. If handled right (that is, of course, a big if) these stores will be able to accommodate this massive interest better than a national retailer. Don't get me wrong, a theoretical Glass store may still prove to be a massive clusterfudge of curious humanity, but a small counter at an all-purpose electronics store will be 10 times worse.
If you are lucky enough to have a Glass store in your area (to reiterate, these stores are all theoretical and still officially DENIED by Google), that will be your best bet for getting hands-on with the brand new must-have toy that everyone loves to hate on.