NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- ICYMI (That's Twitter lingo for 'In Case You Missed It'): Google (GOOG) not only plans to open brick-and-mortar retail stores this year, it's reportedly already building them.
So what does it mean? What's the potential impact?
First, it could mean better-focused, in-the-flesh competition for Apple (AAPL) that gets Steve Ballmer fired at Microsoft (MSFT) once and for all. A well-done Google retail presence could elevate the excitement level in tech several notches this year.
Some thoughts on the pro, con and relatively random sides.
PROSSimply put, Google is not Microsoft. It knows how to create a spectacle. Last week, I visited Google's Manhattan offices in the old Port Authority building. Just incredible. Google covers so many square feet that it puts maps on the walls (and in employee laptops) just to help guests ( and Google staffers) navigate the maze of conference rooms. Visiting Google is an experience. Put another way -- Google knows how to create an experience. It can do likewise in the retail space. The people who work for this company get it. They're smart. For all of the criticisms I have vis-à-vis Google, I would never bet against this company. Google has the potential, assuming it stops giving everything away for free, to nurture meaningful complements to its primary (roughly 98% of sales every quarter) advertising revenue line through the sale of hardware, software and services. And, of course, Google needs to get its products in the hands of potential consumers. It's not like Chromebooks and Nexus smartphones and tablets are as ubiquitous as Windows-based products, let alone MacBooks, iPhones and iPads.
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