One step closer to a retail Google Store? Mystery barges revealed as showrooms

Apple, Microsoft, and Google all sell smartphones directly to customers, but only the first two have their own brick-and-mortar retail arms. This year, we’ve talked on more than one occasion about the possibility of Google branching out to the storefront space as well, especially with Glass’s commercial launch looming over the horizon. We heard the company dismiss rumors of such a retail push back in February, but the idea’s been getting some more attention lately, as a handful of mysterious barges have been spotted on both coasts.

Barges? That’s right; each vessel consist of a barge base, on which a structure made out of shipping containers has been constructed. Once it was worked out that Google was behind these things, speculation started trying to ascertain just what they were to be used for. One idea that got a lot of early traction was that Google was constructing sea-bound data centers, using all that cold water to save on cooling costs. However, a new report out yesterday describes the inside of these structures as consisting of a three-story showroom with a “party deck” up top.

And just like those earlier rumors about Google retail stores, these barges are supposed to be used to help sell Glass, as well as other high-end Google X projects. There’s only one hitch – according to sources, these barges are for the elite – that means that any Glass demos Google might be using them for would be invitation only, catering to celebs and wealthy business interests. If that’s true, it definitely puts a damper on the news, but it’s still interesting to see Google getting into a project like this all the same, and this effort might help ease it into building more traditional stores in the future.

Source: KPIX
Via: GigaOM
Image: Reuters/Stephen Lam

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About The Author
Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bits Read more about Stephen Schenck!