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商业 - 科技

谷歌旗舰店只是个形象工程?

Courtney Subramanian 2014年03月19日

有传言称,这家高科技巨头即将在纽约奢华购物区签下一家店面,而且店面距离苹果第一家零售店不到100米。谷歌的这家旗舰店究竟是在为日后开设更多店面试水,还是单纯为了展示谷歌的企业形象?

    传说中的谷歌零售店或许位于纽约格林街131号。

    距离苹果( Apple)第一家零售店仅295英尺(约合90米)的地方坐落着一栋空楼。这栋楼不仅有可能创造历史,也有望改变谷歌(Google)体验的脸面。

    这家8,000平方英尺(约合743平方米)的店面倒是值得好好说说。但《克莱恩纽约商业周刊》(Crain's New York Business)报道称,谷歌有意将这家位于格林街131号、地处纽约SoHo高档购物区的店面作为自己的第一家实体店,相关协议据说很快就将签署完成。

    谷歌拒绝就这件事发表评论。但房地产经纪人康索洛向《财富》(Fortune)记者证实,谷歌近几个月一直寻求购买一间店面。尽管身为纽约格拉斯艾丽曼房地产零售集团(Douglas Elliman Real Estate)董事长的康索洛并没有亲自参与这桩交易,但他说,谷歌一直对距离最大竞争对手只有一个街区之遥的格林街情有独钟。

    谷歌近期在硬件市场持续发力,相继推出了Nexus平板电脑和智能手机,Chromebook Pixel笔记本电脑以及Chromecast电视,很快还将推出穿戴式科技产品谷歌眼镜(Google Glass)和智能手表。在这种背景下,开设一家旗舰店对谷歌或许是好事一桩。

    但弗雷斯特研究公司(Forrester Research)分析师萨查瑞塔•马尔普鲁认为,这些产品是否足以支撑起一家零售店并不是问题的关键。

    马尔普鲁说:“在我看来,这家零售店介于快闪店( pop-up store)和旗舰体验目的地之间,前者是一种营销手法,后者则是为了带来真实的使用体验。”

    这个店面有可能作为一家谷歌博物馆,每隔几个星期向公众展示新产品和创意。马尔普鲁声称,它更像是那艘沿着西海岸漂浮、神秘莫测的谷歌驳船的陆上版本,有望成为这家科技巨擘旗下的另一处旅游景点。

    “人人都喜欢看幕后的创新展示,”她说。“这就像是每隔几个月在《60分钟》(60 Minutes)上宣布全新的无人机计划一样。”

    倘若谷歌真在SoHo购物区开设了一家店面,那也不是这家公司首次试水零售领域。去年年底,谷歌借节假日之际在全美6个城市推出名为Winter Wonderlabs的快闪店,展示自己的最新产品。许多人推测说,这个举动是谷歌开设固定店面的先兆。

    除了突破性地进军零售领域以外,谷歌其实也在扮演追赶者的角色。苹果公司将自己的硬件和操作系统连接在一起,打造了一个非常和谐的生态系统,并由此成为高科技零售领域的开创者。而微软公司(Microsoft)和Windows操作系统一直努力尝试着把自己的设备与软件驱动的业务捆绑在一起。我们很难衡量2012年推出的微软商店究竟获得了多大的成功,因为微软并没有披露零售业务的收入,但微软制造的硬件远远没有苹果或谷歌产品那么流行。

    Just 295 feet down the block from Apple's (AAPL) first retail store sits an empty space that could not only make history but also change the face of the Google (GOOG) experience.

    That's a lot to be said for an 8,000-square-foot storefront, but according to Crain's New York Business, Google is reportedly close to signing a deal to debut its first ever brick-and-mortar store at 131 Greene St. in New York City's trendy SoHo shopping district.

    Google declined to comment for this article. But real estate agent Faith Hope Consolo confirmed to Fortune that Google has been seeking out a space for months. The chairman of New York's Douglas Elliman Real Estate retail group is not involved with the deal, but says Google has been focused on Greene Street, just one block away from its largest competitor.

    A flagship store could serve as a boon to Google as it ramps up efforts to become a hardware player with its products including the Nexus tablet and smartphones, Chromebook Pixel laptop, Chromecast for television, and the forthcoming wearable tech Google Glass and smartwatch.

    But whether that's enough to sustain a retail store isn't the question, according to Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst with consulting firm Forrester Research.

    "To me it's somewhere between a pop-up store, which is a marketing contest, and a flagship experience destination that is intended to bring an experience alive," Mulpuru says.

    The store could serve as a Google museum providing new exhibits and ideas every few weeks. Mulpuru argues it is more akin to an on-land version of the mystery Google barge afloat along the West Coast, providing the tech firm yet another tourist attraction.

    "Everyone is fascinated by the behind-the-scenes innovation showcases," she says. "It's like the equivalent of having the 60 Minutes announcement of the drone every few months."

    A spot in SoHo wouldn't be the company's first testing of the retail space. Late last year Google launched Winter Wonderlabs, or pop-up shops in six cities around the country that showcased its latest products during the holidays, signaling what many speculated as a precursor to a more permanent presence.

    Aside from a groundbreaking foray into retail, Google is also playing catch-up. While Apple pioneered the tech retail space through its harmonious ecosystem connecting its hardware and operating system, Microsoft (MSFT) and Windows struggled with tying its devices into their software-driven business. It's hard to measure the success of the Microsoft store -- which launched in 2012 -- since the company doesn't disclose revenue for its retail operation, but Microsoft is far from making its hardware as popular as Apple or Google.

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