On Tuesday, Google’s (GOOG) shares closed at $806.84, a gain of 1.75 percent, and surpassing the exclusive $800 mark, making it the first tech company ever to do so. Outside of the technology sector, Google’s colleagues in the $800 club can be counted on less than one hand: Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRKA) class-A shares ($152,498.00), the agriculture and sea-transport conglomerate Seaabord Corp. (SEB) ($2850.00), and the residential construction company NVR Inc. (NVR) ($1,109.74).
This is a welcome about-face from the company’s November 8th low of $652.29, and while it is certainly attributable to shrewd marketing and product releases as well as technical performance, Tuesday’s push likely has much to do with the talk over the holiday weekend that the company would be opening up its own retail stores in time for the 2013 holiday season.
To be sure, the company has been running a trial-balloon version of the retail store idea with its store-in-store presence in Best Buy (BBY) outlets in the U.S. and PC World/Dixon’s (DSITF) outlets in the United Kingdom. Product showcasing in these venues, however, has been limited mainly to the company’s Chromebook laptop. Stand-alone retail stores, on the other hand, suggest that the company is ready to start pushing its Nexus smartphones and tablets in a much more pro-active way.
Retail stores also suggest that new, more exciting, and potentially game-changing products are on the way. For instance, there are much-discussed Google glasses that could serve as a centerpiece for these stores, and there has been chatter about other no-longer-so-unthinkable product releases such as driverless cars and even mini drone-delivery systems.
Finally, retail stores are perhaps most significant for the fact that they signal the company’s official transformation from a tech company to a hardware company, as well as its ability to directly compete with tech giants like Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT) on turf that was previously thought to be their exclusive domain.
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