Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) had quite a week. On Tuesday (Aug. 20), the apparently doomed retailer that had become the poster child for showrooming roared back, posting a profit and gaining ground online. The next day, tech blogger Robert Scoble reported a rumor that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) will rent space in all U.S. Best Buy stores to sell its head-mounted display, Google Glass. Best Buy declined to confirm the rumor.
On the face of it, the rumor can't be right. Supposedly Google wants 6,000 square feet of space, which would be ten times the size of Best Buy's shops-within-the-store for Apple and Samsung, and three times the size of the ones for Microsoft. Besides, that's way too much room even for all Google's hardware products, as Mark Reilly of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal pointed out.
But if that 6,000 is really a 600, it's much more credible. Best Buy's non-denial denial ("We do not have any plans to announce," a spokeswoman told the St. Paul Pioneer Press but added "if a partnership makes sense for our customers, the vendor and Best Buy, we would be open to considering expansion") makes sense in the context of Google's actual efforts to get into brick-and-mortar retail.
In January, Google got permission to put a 1,300-square-foot retail store in its European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. The next month, rumors spread that Google was on the verge of launching its own brick-and-mortar chain in the U.S. That seemed as unlikely as carving out a huge chunk of Best Buy stores.
But a 600-square-foot Best Buy mini-store? That's about the right size to fill with Chromebook computers, Nexus phones and tablets and Google Glass—and, as Scoble pointed out when reporting the original rumor, "you really need to try Glass before buying it to see if it's for you and you also need to have it fitted to your face (and, if you are like me and need prescription lenses you'll need all that taken care of too before you can order yours)."
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