Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said recently that Apple’s biggest advantage over Android tablets was its network of unique retail stores. This week Australia’s Google operator Telstra has launched Androidland, the first brick-and-mortar store space in Melbourne on Thursday created in collaboration with Google to aim for an Apple-like experience around the Android gadgets.
It’s a move to offer the wide 3rd-party menu built around Google’s Android OS –a free and open source platform.
Created in collaboration with Android device manufacturers, “Androidland” showcases the many different devices that run Google’s operating system in a Googly, Android-themed environment with special displays and gaming kiosks that inform potential buyers about how Android works, and what devices may be best match their needs.
When Steve Jobs first proposed the idea of opening Apple-owned stores, Apple’s board of directors were concerned that proprietary stores would alienate big-box retailers, such as CompUSA and Best Buy. Years later, Apple has opened hundreds of the retail stores across the country. Today, the retail stores add upward of $10 billion to the company’s yearly revenues.
Four major smartphone manufacturers — Samsung, LG, Motorola and HTC — have released hundreds of Android devices over the past three years.
Google’s sales problem isn’t shared by Apple, which is vertically integrated and owns the hardware, the software and the retail channel, where the “Genius” team of experts, versed in all things Apple, and at hand to inform and sell.
In contrast, Android manufacturers have a more difficult time selling their wares at third-party channels, which carry a plethora of smartphones and tablets made by all of the major electronics manufacturers (including Apple). Retail staff have many more products to familiarize themselves with, making it more difficult to be fully knowledgeable about any one particular product or brand.
The retail challenges haven’t slowed Google’s surge towards for mobile dominance with some 200 million activated Android devices worldwide and more than 550,000 new activations occurring each day. The Android platform is the current leader in mobile marketshare, surpassing former leaders RIM and Apple in a relatively short window.
If the Melbourne Androidland project takes off, look to Google to expand its retail storefronts to Japan, Europe and, the USA.