Google opens a physical space at Heathrow Airport. I spent a bit of time trying to figure out how to title this entry. You wouldn’t say “Starbucks opens new physical space,” You’d say “Starbucks opens a store.” But Starbucks is a brick-and-mortar retailer with a minimal, marketing-only internet presence. Google is an internet business that’s just launched this weird, internet-enabled airport “space” for… brand cache? I guess. Sure, I’d love to see free net access in every airport in the world; pay-as-you-go wifi is one of my most pet peeves (as is the new thing of hiding/disabling outlets so laptoppers can’t use them in public spaces). But it seems like Google is just launching this to seem nice and benevolent and like they’re doing something for the good of humanity. Like, OMG, you travellers look so bored, let us provide you with internet connections.
Of course, I can’t find anything about what Google Space actually is, but from the pictures it looks like a bunch of little tables with wifi access. Nothing innovative one bit. It does bring up the vaguely interesting speculation of what the physical manifestation of virtual companies might look like. I personally wouldn’t have designed a Google Space to be red-and-white; it’s too Target or IKEA. This basically seems like a very frivolous way for Google to spend money without too much ROI. I don’t think we’ll see a continuation of this trend.
Partnering with companies with similar brand philosophies who already have storefront infrastructure seems like a smarter investment.