Welcome to the Chrome Zone.
That’s not the title of a science fiction movie (that we know of). It’s what you’ll hear when you walk into Google’s first retail store1. It’s located not in the vacinity of Google’s California headquarters, as one might expect, but across the pond in London.
The store is named such because its featured product is the Google Chromebook notebook computer. (The notebook computers are named such because they run the Chrome operating system.)
Reportedly, Google is modeling their retail strategy after Apple. Some of the larger, flashier Apple stores have become destinations in themselves. Go to their store in Shanghai or on Fifth Avenue in New York City, for example, and you’ll see tourists from the world over snapping photos of themselves in front of large, glass-encased Apple logos. So how does the Chrome Zone in London compare to those cool shopping experiences?
Not so much.
For one thing, the Chrome Zone isn’t an entire self-standing store but a section within a store, the PC World on Tottenham Court Road. And it’s a small section at that, barely wide enough for two thin tables.
For another, the physical design of the Chrome Zone, while somewhat cool-looking, falls disappointingly short of what could be described as stunning. The photos, above and below, provide a pretty good sense of it. The retail area is characterized most by use of the solid colors of the Google logo and furnishings that lack right angles.
Still, the Chrome Zone is vaguely worth a visit if you are a tech-centric sort and happen to find yourself in East London. Though you can purchase a Chromebook on Amazon and test one out on Virgin America and at a handful of hotels, the Chrome Zone is currently the only brick-and-mortar store where they can be found.
Google has been cryptic in their plans for the Chrome Zone. By the time you read this their second store might already be open in the Lakeside Sopping Centre in Essex. It’s worth noting that the Apple stores started out somewhat modest also; the first one was in a shopping mall in suburban Washington DC.
And that might be the best reason to go to the Tottenham Chrome Zone now. If the Google stores do become a big hit you can say you visited the humble beginnings of the very first one.
1 Google has an a store on its California campus that sells t-shirts, bags and such sporting Google logos. But we aren’t counting that one.