Google opens Maryland store in latest tech sales offensive

Google opens a store in Maryland to compete with tech giants Apple and Microsoft, but is it enough? Photo: Google/ AP

WASHINGTON, November 18, 2013 — Quietly, Google has opened one of its six brand new stores in the Westfield Annapolis mall, in its latest bid to battle technology giants such as Apple and Microsoft. The store is called the Winter Wonderlab, and features familiar design seasonal elements from its competitors, as well as clothing outlets.  Previously, Google had not opened any retail outlets, pursuing sales of its products only through its online “Play Store” or through other distributors.

The Winter Wonderlab contains a large sized snowball, similar in appearance to Disney’s “Epcot Center,” but with an opening at the front for customers to enter. 

Visitors to the store, specifically the snowball themed section, can create special videos of themselves, playing or dancing in snow, captured in slow motion. Google’s website says “Sometimes what the hectic holidays need is some slow-mo. Bring friends or family members (we’ll provide the fake snow) and step into the giant Snow Globe to create amazing slow motion videos that are yours to keep and share.”

The remaining of the six stores are in New Jersey, New York, Chicago (IL), Los Angeles and Sacramento (both in California). Maryland was likely chosen as a major battleground site due to its proximity to the I-270 Technology Corridor and Virginia’s booming tech sector. According to the TechAmerica Foundation, Virginia is the “national leader in terms of high-tech employment concentration, with 9.8 percent of its private sector workforce in the tech industry.”

It is thought that workers in high tech industries will seek out, purchase, and indirectly increase the popularity of the high tech gadgets that are sold by Google and its competitors.

The University of Maryland won a spot on the 2013 “Best Schools for Hackers”, after its team, the Terrapin Hackers, beat out others to become the “Fall 2013 Hackathon” season champions. A “hackathon” is a legal competition focused on legitimate computer programming. Hackathons are often encouraged by colleges and universities to spur interest in computer science and information technology degrees. Such competitions are widely watched by Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others when scouting new talent for their employee pools.

The store opened on November 16, 2013, in time to compete for holiday sales, and will close sometime before Christmas, according to statements made to Mashable by Google representatives.  

Google has a history of apparently mismanaging the marketing of major initiatives. For several years, releases of other technology products, such as smartphones, tablets, or even its new “Chromecast” product were done with little fanfare, and with immediate shortages of products.

Separately, Google will pay the state of Maryland more than a million dollars to settle a lawsuit over privacy breaches.

“Given the many, often undetectable ways personal information can be collected and shared online, consumers need to be able to trust that their privacy preferences will be honored,” Attorney General Gansler told Southern Maryland Online. “Internet companies must keep their privacy promises so that consumers can navigate the Internet on their own terms.”

The settlement with Maryland is part of a deal reached with dozens of other states, with approximately $17 million being paid by Google. Maryland seems to have reached a superior deal to other state governments, leaving only $16 million to be divided up amongst the 36 remaining states. 

 


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Rahat Husain

Rahat Husain has been working as a columnist since 2013 when he joined the Communities. With an interest in America and Islam, Rahat is a prolific writer on contemporary and international issues.

 

In addition to writing for the Communities, Rahat Husain is an Attorney based in the Washington DC Metropolitan area. He is the Director of Legal and Policy Affairs at UMAA Advocacy. For the past six years, Mr. Husain has worked with Congressmen, Senators, federal agencies, think tanks, NGOs, policy institutes, and academic experts to advocate on behalf of Shia Muslim issues, both political and humanitarian. UMAA hosts one of the largest gatherings of Shia Ithna Asheri Muslims in North America at its annual convention.

 

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