India is undoubtedly one of the hottest markets for smartphones, and Google is still way behind rivals such as Apple and Samsung when it comes to selling smartphones in the country. So, to boost the sales of its Pixel smartphones, the U.S. firm is considering opening Google physical stores in the country, according to The Economic Times.
Google physical stores – why it’s important
Google Pixel is over a year-old device, but Indian customers are largely unaware of this brilliant smartphone. Indians are more inclined towards the highly visible and affordable names like Samsung, OnePlus and Xiaomi. With 1.2 billion mobile subscribers, India is the world’s second-biggest wireless market.
Thus, Google physical stores would help the search giant increase the visibility of its Pixel smartphones and give potential customers a hands-on experience with its device. Further, physical stores will help Google compete with Apple and Samsung, as well as Chinese phone makers like Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo.
Citing sources aware of the development, ET says that the U.S. firm is looking to set up “experience centers” in India, and would roll-out the stores in the second half of 2018. Another source revealed that Google had already roped in a senior Apple executive as part of its plan. Google, however, gave no information on the development, and told ET that the company does not comment on rumors and speculations.
If reports are to be believed, Google is happy with the response it got from the pop-up stores in India. According to ET, two “prominent” malls in India have received requests to open Google retail space.
“They got a flavor of how physical stores are also important because you can’t explain many of the features online,” one of the malls’ executives told ET.
Apart from the Pixel range of smartphones, Google retail stores would sell a range of Google-made products including the Google Home line of smart speakers. Other devices to make their way could be Chromecast streaming devices, Pixel laptops and Google’s Daydream View VR headset.
Not the first time
Google has tried opening retail stores in the past as well, but it did go well. Back in 2013, the search engine giant came up with physical stores in partnership with the Spice Group. Dubbed as Androidland, the stores offered Android-based handsets from Samsung, HTC, Sony, Xolo, Lenovo, Micromax and more. At the time, Google had plans of opening 50 stores, but the project died after just two stores.
“We had done two stores as part of the pilot and then we could not proceed with the project as they did not meet with our desired objectives,” said Dilip Modi, chief executive of Spice Connect, according to ET.
For now, it is not known if Google would go for a single brand retailing license in India, or opt for a franchise model like Samsung. Samsung, as well as Xiaomi’s Mi physical outlets are owned and operated by franchisees in India. Apple is interested in a single-brand license to open stores in India, and has urged concessions from the government.