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Google may end up being compelled to follow Apple and Microsoft with a chain of retail stores worldwide

Apple and Microsoft have taken their decades-long battle into the streets, with branded retail stores to show off their wares and cultivate loyal customers. Apple has more than 300 retail stores worldwide, which rang up $16 billion in sales in 2011, and Microsoft plans to have 44 stores opened by mid-year 2013. Read the full article.

Google is taking on both Apple and Microsoft to become the dominant platform for everything digital in the next decade. Can Google afford to stay off the street with its own glassy superstores? The Google Store exists, but it’s more like a Disney store with Google logoed T-shirts, pens and hats.

The company has established Chrome Zone mini pop-up stores, featuring Chromebooks, in London and other locations, such as Ace Hotels and on Virgin America flights. Now Google is expanding Chrome Zones into 100 Best Buy stores in the U.S., and additional Dixon’s stores in the U.K. Perhaps Google’s new tablet, the Android-based Nexus 7, will make an appearance, and Chrome Zones will become Google Zones.

But in light of Apple’s retail success and Microsoft’s major retail push, Google could be compelled to make a large- scale, brick-and-mortar investment. In response to a query about such a move, a Google spokesperson told CNET that the company does not speculate on the future.


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