In recent times, Google’s ambitions have been pretty much boundless.
The company which used to be just a search engine now has its own mobile empire, both software and hardware, its own TV service, laptops, and now a social network to challenge Facebook.
It’s even experimenting with weird and wonderful tech such as a driverless car, and now Google has taken another step forward in its attempt to become a still bigger global empire.
In a move that emulates Apple, Google has opened up its first retail store, not in America but London. Although don’t expect a swanky plate-glass walled boutique in some chic street.
In fact, Google’s opening gambit is a simple area which has been sectioned off within PC World on Tottenham Court road.
It basically consists of some desks, benches and a large screen display, all showcasing Chromebooks, a number of which are on offer to play with, complete with staff trained to enthuse about the benefits of cloud computing.
The Samsung Chromebook being demonstrated costs £350 for the wi-fi version, and £50 more if you want 3G. Specs include a 12.1 inch LED backlit display and a 1.66 GHz Intel Atom dual-core N570 processor.
Google’s Chrome operating system is on board (not to be confused with the browser), a cloud-based OS which works via applications stored remotely, not on the machine itself. Hence a 16GB SSD is the only local storage needed, with extra security in terms of everything being backed up to the cloud.
There is some offline functionality built in, but this is primarily a device which is designed to run alongside a net connection.
Google reckons having staff on hand to explain the benefits of cloud computing, and letting punters actually play with the Chromebook first-hand, will help sell the concept.
Should this PC World gambit pay off with good feedback and sales, Google might be considering opening its own proper Apple style stores. Apple can then sue because it had the idea of a shop first.