Report: AT&T retail stores to be one of the first in U.S. to offer Google Glass (update)

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If you can believe it, Google Glass was announced nearly two years ago at Google I/O 2012, becoming available to “Explorers” for the steep price of $1,500. The device didn’t actually ship until nearly a year later, in February 2013, but multiple beta versions of Glass have been in these select few hands since. As for a date when the device would finally go public, Sergey Brin recently said at the Code Conference that Glass would be released this year “plus or minus,” leaving the question as open-ended as ever. Read more

Google opens temporary Winter Wonderlab retail shops in six cities

It might not be as interesting as Google’s floating barge project that will see the company bring interactive technology showrooms to cities in the US, but Google has just opened a number of temporary retail locations leading into the holidays.

The pop-up locations are dubbed Google Winter Wonderlabs and Google’s new site describing the retail experience lists locations for New York City, Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Jersey, and Sacramento.

Google is using the stores to let customers try out and purchase the Nexus 7, Chromebooks, and Chromecast (no mention of Google Glass), but it also has a “Snow globe” room that lets people create slo-mo videos with animated snow fall and “Play Zones” with various product demos set up.  Read more

Pebble smart watch announces Best Buy as exclusive retail launch partner, available online today & in stores July 7

Yesterday we noted that Best Buy retail sources indicated the popular ‘Pebble’ Bluetooth smart watch would be landing on at least some of the retailer’s store shelves this weekend. Today Pebble and Best Buy have finally made things official by announcing the partnership that will bring the most successful Kickstarter-backed device of all time to both Best Buy online and across all its U.S. brick and mortar locations.

It’s definitely big news for the company ahead of Apple’s rumored smart watch, as well as Sony and others getting deeper into the space. The exclusive retail partnership with Best Buy also marks Pebble’s first retail launch of the device after raising over $10.2 million from around 68,000 backers on Kickstarter. Read more

Samsung confirms 1,400 ‘Samsung Experience Shops’ coming to Best Buy locations by summer

Samsung-Experience-Shop-Best-Buy

When we heard late last month that Samsung planned to open Apple-style ‘store-in-store’ locations within Best Buy retail stores it was still only rumor. Today Samsung and Best Buy have made things official for its plans to roll out 1,400 “Samsung Experience Shops” in Best Buy retail stores across the United States. Best Buy plans to have the store within a store Samsung shops up and running by the summer with 900 scheduled to open by May:

Select Best Buy stores will have Samsung Smart Service™, which includes dedicated Samsung Experience Consultants™ and Best Buy blue shirt sales associates to assist customers with purchasing and activating mobile products on the carrier of their choice, understanding their device and supporting them throughout the lifecycle of their product. The specially trained Samsung Experience Consultants will assist with product demonstrations, basic product services, Samsung account set up, warranty registration and post purchase support.

The shops vary in size, with the largest being approximately 460 square feet. Within the larger shops, the Samsung Connected Solutions™ area creates a place for customers to see how easily Samsung devices connect and share content across multiple screens.

It’s not exactly a first for Samsung, having experimented with a number of similar store-within-store locations at other retailers around the globe, but it could very well act as a test ahead of bigger retail expansion plans in the U.S. It’s also something that Google has experimented with in Best Buy and PCWorld in the United Kingdom, which we’re hearing has lead to even much bigger retail plans for the company.

The image above shows what a typical Samsung Experience Shop inside Best Buy will look like. Samsung’s full press release below: Read more

To get products into more hands, Google will open its own stores by the end of the year

An extremely reliable source has confirmed to us that Google is in the process of building stand-alone retail stores in the U.S. and hopes to have the first flagship Google Stores open for the holidays in major metropolitan areas.

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. Google’s retail move won’t be an entirely new area, however.

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Google Chrome pop-up stores

Google currently has Chrome Store-within-a-store models in hundreds of Best Buys in the U.S. and 50 PCWorld/Dixon’s in the U.K. These stores have Google trained employees who demonstrate the value of Chromebooks and can answer the multitude of questions people have before making a purchase. Our source told us the new Google Stores would be a much broader play. The Chrome SIS employees don’t have sales targets, and they are there mostly for educating. Best Buy and Dixen’s also handle product and monetary transactions, not Google.

Chrome-Virgin-Kiosk.

Google and Virgin also ran a limited test run of Kiosks in five major Airports, including this one at SFO  (Image Scott Beale)

My understanding is that these new stores will operate independently and make direct sales to customers from Google like the Nexus online store does currently. It might also make sense for Google to sell its apparel and other Google-branded merchandise in these stores as well, but that’s speculation on my part.

The decision to open stores, I’m told, came when drawing up plans to take the Google Glass to the public. The leadership thought consumers would need to try Google Glass first hand to make a purchase. Without being able to use them first hand, few non-techies would be interested in buying Google’s glasses (which will retail from between $500 to $1,000). From there, the decision to sell other Google-branded products made sense.

Along with Glass, Google will have an opportunity to demonstrate other upcoming and Google X projects like driverless cars and mini-drone delivery systems at its stores.

There are small bits of anecdotal evidence that Google is looking into retail. It is hiring folks to develop Point of Sale systems, for instance. We’re told, however, that most of the ramping up of these stores will be done by an outside agency.

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently told analysts that Apple Stores were more than just stores—but rather the face of the company.

“I don’t think we would have been nearly as successful with iPad if it weren’t for our stores. It gives Apple an incredible competitive advantage. Others have found out it’s not so easy to replicate. We’re going to continue to invest like crazy. The average store last year was over 50 million in revenue.”

Google may now understand that if it wants to roll out a new product category like Google Glass, it is going to have to dive into retail. Read more

Walmart memo reveals retailer will no longer sell Amazon’s Kindle line

Walmart apparently sent a memo to store managers on Sept. 19. announcing plans to stop selling Amazon’s line of Kindle products.

“We have recently made the business decision to not carry Amazon tablets and eReaders beyond our existing inventory and purchase commitments,” said Walmart in the memo. “This includes all Amazon Kindle models current and recently announced.”

Reuters, which cited the memo and an unidentified source “familiar with situation,” first reported the news:

In the memo, Wal-Mart said the decision was consistent with its overall merchandising strategy. While Wal-Mart dwarfs other retailers in overall sales, it trails Amazon and others online and has been stepping up efforts to increase its presence there. Consumers who buy Kindle tablets such as the new Kindle Fire HD can shop on the devices for more than just digital books, pushing Amazon into further competition with stores.

The publication did not provide additional details, but Walmart.com currently reflects the reported change. When searching for “Kindle” on the national retailer’s website, no Kindle-related products appear in the queue. It is unclear if Walmart’s website ever offered the tablets, however.

Read more

Google Play Gift Cards rolling out to Target, GameStop, RadioShack, & Walmart

We told you last week that Google was readying physical gift cards for Google Play content, and the company made things official today by announcing the cards will roll out to Target, GameStop, and RadioShack retail outlets in the coming weeks. The cards will be available in $10, $25, and $50, and they will initially only be available in the United States at the retailers mentioned above and through Walmart.com later this month.

-Explore millions of songs from top artists, thousands of your favorite movies and TV shows, the world’s largest selection of eBooks, and much more. Play your purchases instantly on the web or on the go — no need for wires or syncing.

-Shop for all the Android apps and games you love with your Google Play gift card. You can even use it to purchase extra levels, add-on packs, and virtual currency.

Read more

Google Nexus 7 currently out of stock or backordered at most retailers

With Google and several retailers accepting preorders for the new Nexus 7 tablet leading up to last week’s launch, it appears Google is selling the device as quickly as it can ship it to retailers. As noted by CNET, several of Google’s key retail partners, including GameStop, Staples, Sam’s Club, and Office Depot, now list the device as backordered, sold out, or out of stock.

It looks like Google’s initial wave of units has run out. However, some customers report there is limited stock at select brick-and-mortar locations for some of these retailers, despite lack of online availability. Canadian retailers, such as BestBuy.ca and Staples.ca, are also listing the device as out of stock, while Google Play still lists shipping to both the U.S. and Canada as “1-2 weeks“.

Read more

Buy a Samsung HDTV from Best Buy, get a free Galaxy Tab 10.1 next week

If you’re in the market for a 46-inch or 55-inch Samsung 3D HDTV, this will for sure intrigue you. Samsung and Best Buy are running a promotional deal offering a free Galaxy Tab 10.1 with purchase of 3D HDTV. The 3D goddesses are priced at $1500 and $2000, respectively. The promotion starts this Sunday, running from August 21st to August 27th.

This is a sure way to get the Mom and Pops to start getting interested in Android tablets.. but first they’ll have to them to latch on to the 3D idea. (via TechCrunch) Read more