It was just yesterday, May 19 of 2021, that Apple celebrated the 20th anniversary of the very first Apple Store. In what is surely a complete coincidence, Google today announced it will open its very first Google Store this summer — and where else than New York City.
20 years ago today, we opened our first Apple retail stores. Each time I visit one of our stores around the world, I feel the special energy of our teams, the creativity of our customers and how our products empower them to change the world. Here’s to the next 20 years! pic.twitter.com/d0xhGyI3Tt
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) May 20, 2021
Granted, the first Apple Store was in Virginia, but the company’s most famous shop is the probably Fifth Avenue Cube in Manhattan. That’s where Microsoft opened its flagship store too, although now it is just an ‘experience center.’
Google’s store will instead be located in the Chelsea neighborhood, where Google’s NYC headquarters are located. The store will feature a variety of hardware, including Pixel phones, Nest devices, Fitbit trackers, and more. Essentially, it’s a hub for all of Google’s hardware.
The store is also meant to be an in-person support hub, allowing Pixel customers to fix a broken screen or attend to other issues.
Because we’re still going through a pandemic, Google says “masks, hand sanitation, and social distancing will be required in the Google Store, and we’ll clean all spaces multiple times a day.” It’ll also limit the number of guests allowed inside the store.
The company says the Google Store “is an important next step in our hardware journey of providing the most helpful experience of Google, wherever and whenever people need it.”
It is also perhaps the clearest indication yet that Google is doubling down on hardware — it wants to be seen as more than just a software and services company. The company has been expanding its reach in various hardware categories, and rumors indicate the company is planning to double down on the Pixel phone line this fall — including launching its first-ever mobile processor.
Google and Apple are arguably the most powerful tech companies in the world, but even as a diehard Pixel user it’s clear that Apple hardware has much more clout in the mind of typical consumers. The proliferation of Apple Stores is a major part of it; one NYU historian even made a strong case that Apple Stores are essentially churches for an Apple ‘religion’ (or cult).
I don’t know if Google will ever be able to match that kind of mindshare, but the Google Store is taking an important first step this summer.
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