Move over, Apple! Google goes retail with the 'Chrome Zone'

Never one to sit back and watch the competition, Google is testing the retail waters with a 285 square-foot space inside a London computer store they opened this past Friday. With the air of a trendy pop-up boutique it will only be open through Christmas, but is an important experiment for the equivalent of the web's 900 pound gorilla.

This 900 pound gorilla just crashed into Apple's part of the jungle. And we're pretty sure they mean business.

Dubbed the "Chrome Zone," the retail space inside London's PC World store will sell Google's Chromebook laptop and a few accessories. Previously only available via online stores, this is the chance to get the Chromebook (and Google's Chrome browser) into the hands of consumers and let them test drive. The idea is the more you test drive - the more you buy. The more you buy, the more you browse.

The Chromebook launched in June of this year and is touted as the next step towards simplified, secure computing. There is no hard drive — all software and data are stored in the cloud so an internet connection is required.

Google promises the launch of more Chrome Zones in the U.K. during the lead up to the holiday season, and will be closely monitoring how a hands-on experience affects their sales. So far, Google is mum as to whether they will extend the Chrome Zones concept worldwide in a direct bid to take a bite out of Apple's 200 locations.

Somehow we think Google has a master plan. We just hope they don't leave a copy in a bar.

London Evening Standard, via SFGate, via CNET and AndroidPIT

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