Google retail stores may open this year in U.S.

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Citing an "extremely reliable source", 9to5Google reports that the iconic search company intends to launch its own network of brick-and-mortar retail stores across the United States. According to the report, the company hopes to introduce a select number of these Google Stores before the 2013 holiday season.

Retail locations seem like an ideal way for Google to float chancy conceptual projects like Google Glass to the public. It's Chromebook, for example, is a product that not every consumer is likely to "get" until they sit down in front of one. The possibility of demonstrations and hands-on experiences could help make Google's most imaginative products seem less abstract to consumers, encouraging them to take the plunge with their wallets. 

The search giant has already been dipping its toes into retail waters through its "store within a store" partnership at select Best Buys. Additionally, the report suggests that Google's interest in retail may be further substantiated by its recent efforts to hire talent familiar with point-of-sale systems; however, 9to5Google has also been told the company is searching for "outside" help to run its retail operation.

The concept of a brand-centric store is hardly novel. Apple's chain of trendy boutiques is perhaps the gold standard for these types of vertically integrated stores, while Microsoft's own take on real-world establishments may also be exhibiting signs of success. Not every brand seems cut out for retail though; consider failures by Gateway and Dell, for instance.

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