Google eyeing brick and mortar stores in India to push Pixel

Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is intent on establishing a foothold in the fast-growing Indian smartphone market, and plans to use brick-and-mortar stores to help lure shoppers to its line of Pixel smartphones. The newspaper agency, citing internal sources, revealed that the company is now in talks with multiple malls to set up stores across the country.

The tentative timeline for the physical Google stores is in the latter part of 2018. Post the launch of the Pixel 2 / 2 XL in India, we had already seen a lot of pop-up stores at various malls which let people experience these phones first-hand.

According to sources, Google will be focussing on improving the number of experience centres across India, as the response from these activities has been encouraging. One executive at a mall claims that the pop-ups have imparted on Google how retail is "important because you can't explain numerous features online". The third person said Google had hired a senior Apple executive as part of its plan.

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Google responded to a Reuters query saying that it does not comment on rumours or speculations.

Now the company only sells the Pixel smartphones online and has a minor share in the smartphone market. Google lags behind the likes of Samsung, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, and even Apple, which began local production of its iPhone SE in India back in May. Sources familiar with the matter suggest a final decision is likely to be taken soon and the first Google stores in India could be launched in the second half of next year.

It's still unclear whether Google will own and operate the stores itself, or whether it'll go the franchise route instead. In 2013, Google had in partnership with BK Modipromoted Spice Group rolled out AndroidLand outlets to sell Android smartphones from brands such as Samsung, Sony, HTC, Lenovo, Xolo, Micromax and Karbonn, alongside Spice, which also sells its own branded smartphones.

  • Delia Davidson