At Mobile World Congress, Andy Rubin, SVP of Mobile and Digital Content at Google (and co-founder of Android), shut down rumors that Google will be opening up retail stores.
Last week, 9to5Google put out a report indicating that Google would be opening its own retail stores by the end of the year. The report cited "an extremely reliable source". According to Rubin, however, Google has no need to open stores, despite other indications that Google Glass will be widely available by the year's end.
Ina Fried at All Things D shares some words from him:
“They don’t have to go in the store and feel it anymore,” Rubin said, during a roundtable with reporters on Tuesday. Plus, he said, the Google hardware effort is still in its infancy. “For Nexus, I don’t think the program is far enough along to think about the necessity of having these things in a retail store.”
As for whether Google as a whole might nonetheless be considering retail stores. “Google has no plans and we have nothing to announce,” he said.
Okay, the "nothing to announce" part is pretty commonplace regardless of whether or not the company actually has something in the works. The "Google has no plans" part seems a little bit more definitive.
Still, it doesn't sound like the idea is totally ruled out for the future. Perhaps 9to5Google's "extremely reliable source" is just off on the timeframe.
Despite Rubin's comments, Google clearly has a number of items it could easily get into a retail store, and the company already has a presence in some Best Buys and PCWorld/Dixon’s stores.
Plus, as Google Retail Industry Director Todd Pollak recently said, "The lines between online and offline shopping experiences are blurring.”
Update: 9to5Google's Seth Weintraub now has this to say:
I reported last week that Google had plans to open retail stores within the year, which according to a quick ping of that same source, is still on. When asked about Rubin’s comments, I was told that Rubin wasn’t being forthcoming or AllThingsD misquoted him.
It should be noted that the retail program is being born (we’re told) out of Google’s (X) labs under Sergey Brin and not out of the Android group and the two groups aren’t always in full cooperation
The rumor continues...