Yesterday I attended the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Google Shop at Best Buy’s Mississauga Heartland Town Centre. This was a pretty big deal. Google has chosen Best Buy to partner with for its store-within-a-store approach to retail and and the Best Buy in Mississauga was the launch location—the first in North America. To get the full scoop on the launch, including the ribbon cutting by Janelle Fischer (Google’s Global Head of Retail Design) be sure to check out that post.
It’s Time for Google Shop
Google used to spend most of its time developing software and services. Google Search of course, the Android operating system, Chrome browser, Google Earth, Google Maps and Chrome OS for PCs, for example. The list is virtually endless.
But over the past several years, Google has increasingly turned its attention to hardware to take advantage of that software. The Nexus smartphones and tablets and the onHub router—designed and built in partnership with OEM companies were the first stage. Lately, that hardware effort has seen a new push, with Google-branded gear: the Chromecast family, Pixel Phone, Daydream View virtual reality headset, and the upcoming Google Wifi mesh router router and Google Home smart speaker.
With all this high tech gear designed by Google and wearing its name, it was time for a shopping experience where consumers could find it all together.
That’s the Google Shop at Best Buy.
Google Shop at Best Buy is the Best Way to Experience Google Products
At first glance, the Google Shop the Mississauga Best Buy store has an almost mesmerizing cool factor. The wall of synchronized Pixel Phones or the massive screen displaying Google Earth and other services probably has a lot to do with that. But once you get past the eye candy, there’s a realization that there’s no better way to learn about Google’s products.
For example, despite extensive coverage of its launch, until Friday I hadn’t actually played with a Google Pixel phone. The Google Shop had probably a dozen of them on display, in both sizes, with plenty of space to put the phone through its paces. For the record, even though I just upgraded to an iPhone 7 Plus, I was pretty impressed with the Google Pixel XL. Beautiful display, nice, premium build and the performance was very snappy.
Google Guides were on hand to answer any questions and when I started looking at the new Chromecast Ultra, one of the Guides took me over to a big screen TV where multiple Pixel Phones and a Chromecast Ultra were set up. I got a walkthrough on casting, connectivity options (including Ethernet for 4K content), applications that support casting and even how to use it on my iPhone. I have six Apple TVs in the house—covering every generation of the device—so my lot is cast on that front, but it was very interesting. And if I were new to video streaming, that kind of hands-on demonstration would have been invaluable.
From there, I tried on a Google Daydream View. I’m still not a huge VR fan (I get motion sickness so that is not the technology for me), but this gave me the opportunity to at least experience how comfortable these new headsets are.
If you’re shopping online, Best Buy has all the Google gear together where it’s easy to find and order. But if you want to physically explore what Google’s been up to, to actually try it out, compare and see how its different products work together, go to a Best Buy store with a Google Shop and check it out. You won’t be disappointed. If nothing else, you can experience the Pixel Phone wall …