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Google's plan for floating retail stores runs into legal quandary

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 
Google has tried to keep its construction plans for giant retail showroom barges under wraps, but with new details leaking that the "temporary technology exhibit spaces" are actually floating stores, legal permits may be hard to obtain.

Google Glass barge retail store
Google's low cost, super-sized floating retail strategy being assembled on a barge. Photo: Daniel Eran Dilger


Google was quickly identified as the money behind a barge structure being assembled from shipping containers on a large pier on Treasure Island (below, top left of photo) in San Francisco.

A report by the SF Chronicle states that the structure is the first of three in a $35 million project being built by Turner Construction.



The site obtained a confidential report by the construction company that indicates the barge structures are not exactly a "studio" or "temporary technology exhibit space" that Google represented them as being in permit applications submitted to the Port of San Francisco.

Instead, they are "floating retail stores." Mirian Saez, the director of operations of the Treasure Island Development Authority, said representatives from Google told her the floating stores "would be an important opportunity for the launching" of Google Glass.

Google Glass barge retail store


Such an effort would mimic Apple's retail store plans, which Steve Jobs credited with enabling the company to launch its status quo disrupting iPhone and iPad.

However, rather than spending billions to build permanent new retail stores or lease high traffic locations in existing malls as Apple did, Google appears to be floating a lower budget experiment to expose customers to its face mounted Glass device.

However, that strategy may not fly in San Francisco, where a permit from the Bay Conservation and Development Commission is required to moor a barge for any period of time. Gaining such a permit requires a legitimate plan involving maritime or recreational use.

Google Glass barge retail store


Commission executive Larry Goldzband told the Chronicle investigators Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross that "a floating retail store that is not a bay-oriented enterprise would probably make a lot of jaws drop at a commission meeting."

Goldzband characterized Google as not being very open about its plans, stating "we have told them we don't want to wait a heck of a lot longer because [...] the public needs to know what Google is doing."

Google Glass barge retail store


Asked about whether it plans to use the barges as retail stores, Google told the reporters, "while we have explored many ideas in the past around the barges, our current plan, as we've stated before, is to use them as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology."

Previously, Google said its structures were intended to "drive visitation to the waterfront," and the company's plans indicate the stacked container barges would be outfitted with decorative sails to look like a boat. That might not be enough to sneak a huge Google Glass retail store through the permitting process.

"The commission is going to ask, 'Is there an alternative (land) location for this program to occur?'" Goldzband stated. "If there is, then the commission is going to have a very difficult time convincing the public there should be something happening on the bay."
post #2 of 47
Google Insider.
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #3 of 47

So Google is going to whore itself out like a Carnival cruise, roaming the ocean searching for unsuspecting senior citizens to hock their wares…

 

Hopefully the ships get captured by Somalians. And then returned to Mountain View the next week with a note: “You can keep it.”

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #4 of 47
If this "store" is going to stay on Treasure Island, it will have problems attracting the number of people Google is hoping for. I've gone across the Bay Bridge and the exits to Treasure Island are not that easy to use. Try getting there during rush hour!

Add this to Amazon's insane drone delivery service and while these two ideas are definitely "thinking differently" there is a difference between "different" and absolutely crazy. Of course, Google is just trying to get out of paying property taxes. I'd love to hear how they plan of handling sewage. One spill in the Bay and they better be closed.
post #5 of 47
And how are all of the people that don't have any money that typically buy Android products get on the boat? Are they going to run them like some of these pop up stores where you can't take an actual product home? Apparently, they opened up a Pop Up store in my area for Christmas, where you can see all of the products, order the products over the internet (probably trying to get better internet sales numbers) but you can't take anything home and I don't think they have anyone there that will repair/replace a product and these are just temporary stores.

I think Google is thinking so outside the box, that there's no logic involved in actually providing the customer with a solution.

Freaking idiots.
post #6 of 47
Drive them far enough out to sea and there's no worry!

(Impulse foot-traffic will be reduced somewhat.)
post #7 of 47
man, google is run by idiots. first the nexus q. then google glass. now this. fail fail fail.
post #8 of 47
No point in sinking money into this idea. It's dead in the water.
post #9 of 47
GypsyGoogle.

Good luck with that concept kids.
post #10 of 47

Something like this on the San Francisco waterfront, along the busy Embarcadero, would make sense as a marketing tool and generate lots of buzz. 

 

Docked on Treasure Island, this is a headscratcher at best.  Treasure Island is a couple of miles away from the mainland and does not have a lot of residents or regular visitors.  It's a low profile and low visibility location, and as others have pointed out, you do not want to go there when traffic backs up on the Bay Bridge.  As a special events venue or marketing/promotion vehicle, I can these barges working quite well, but not at that location. 

 

I guess that's the point of a barge -- they can tow it wherever it needs to go.  Given that Treasure Island has nearby hangars that movie studios and special effects shops use as soundstages, as well as other spaces used by artists, maybe the barge is just docked there for fitting. 

post #11 of 47
How innovative: When it fails, they can just sink it for the tax write off.

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post #12 of 47

Standard Google modus operandi: do whatever the hell you want and worry about any legal ramifications later.

post #13 of 47
Titanic, meet Project Iceberg...
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post #14 of 47
How does Eric plan on getting these stores into Arizona or the Mid West?
post #15 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by TomMcIn View Post

How does Eric plan on getting these stores into Arizona or the Mid West?


That's just flyover country, apparently not worth worrying about.  Unless the next version will be like the SHIELD helicarrier.

post #16 of 47
Google has been in California for ever so long. It ought to know that anything new or different would excite the anger of the state's myriad of regulatory bodies.

In California, you can't build until the weight of your filing paperwork, surveys, environmental studies, and the like exceeds the weight of what you want to build. There's a host of rent-seekers that want their share. That's also why that $80 billion train line will never be finished.
post #17 of 47

Didn't google say this things it going to cater to the rich and famous and VIP crowds and this is going to drive visitation or tourism.

 

Yeah google is thinking outside the box, and trying to market product is different way, but you still have to deal with people in government and we all know how they can be. I wonder who will get fires over this if they can not pull it off.


Edited by Maestro64 - 12/2/13 at 2:49pm
post #18 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by TomMcIn View Post

How does Eric plan on getting these stores into Arizona or the Mid West?

I don't think he saw this question coming, but he might have been wearing their Google Glass.
post #19 of 47

yeah right, floating stores. 

 

Next you'll hear that Amazon is delivering packages via DRONES.... pshhht...

post #20 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

How innovative: When it fails, they can just sink it for the tax write off.

Both a tax write off and a possible insurance scam.
post #21 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by TomMcIn View Post

How does Eric plan on getting these stores into Arizona or the Mid West?


There are some leaked photos of Google's plans for the midwest/desert areas of the US.  Perhaps in one of these they will find the Droids they were looking for. :)

 

post #22 of 47
Hey Schmidt remember this line?

"If you have something that you don%u2019t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn%u2019t be doing it in the first place."

Irony is great. Not so much hypocrisy.
post #23 of 47
It's a great way to create a roaming store that can visit various ports.... A lot cheaper than having a bunch of permanent land-based stores.
post #24 of 47

Maybe Google could buy Alcatraz and put a store there?

post #25 of 47
It looks kind of tacky. Maybe it's just unfinished.
post #26 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

How innovative: When it fails, they can just sink it for the tax write off.

 

You do actually have to show a tax liability somewhere in the first place to be able to write it off.  Perhaps these vessels will be declared nation states with their own tax rules - forward planning for when they run out of places to hide their cash.

post #27 of 47
Dudes! The Amazon Prime Air is a perfect companion to the Google floating barge stores!! By nearing the shore all around SF, Prime Air can provide citywide delivery to plutocrat rooftops from the Google floating pizza ovens and gourmet cuisine kitchens! The pizza will arrive still sizzling and you'll have to wait for a minute to cool down.

Dudes! Surfers can have pizza delivered while waiting for the next big set to roll in from Alaska. DogCowabunga, dudes!
post #28 of 47
Typical Google, always after a free lunch.

Tow it and dock it to avoid the usual land and planning charges.
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Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
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post #29 of 47

I doubt very much that this project is cheaper than paying rent for "normal" retail space.     And it's also not very environmental, because either the barge or whatever is towing it is going to have to burn oil to create electricity.   It's one thing to have to put up studs, plasterboard, flooring and fixtures in existing space and quite another to have to create a retail environment from scratch on a barge.

 

But "whatever floats their boat".   

post #30 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
 

Didn't google say this things it going to cater to the rich and famous and VIP crowds and this is going to drive visitation or tourism.

 

Yeah google is thinking outside the box, and trying to market product is different way, but you still have to deal with people in government and we all know how they can be. I wonder who will get fires over this if they can not pull it off.

Makes me wonder how the Chromebook Pixel is working out for them. Google doesn't quite realize that there's a difference between being out-of-reach and harboring elitist aspirations vs. Apple's strategy of affordable luxury. Glass is out-of-reach enough. Did they have to make seeing/using this product truly only available to Glassholes? Their marketing is just, just horrible.

For your sake, I hope you're right.
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For your sake, I hope you're right.
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post #31 of 47

Google's dishonestly and cheating just has no end. There's this sense I get that they, as an organizational, believe that the world's resources are theirs to take as they please. If they need to lie, cheat, and steal to get it they will.

For your sake, I hope you're right.
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For your sake, I hope you're right.
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post #32 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post
 

I doubt very much that this project is cheaper than paying rent for "normal" retail space.     And it's also not very environmental, because either the barge or whatever is towing it is going to have to burn oil to create electricity.   It's one thing to have to put up studs, plasterboard, flooring and fixtures in existing space and quite another to have to create a retail environment from scratch on a barge.

 

But "whatever floats their boat".   


Actually, there have been a lot of experimental designs out there involving refitted containers, and similar modular components, that can be readily disassembled and transported.  If anything, a barge is simply one platform among many that can accommodate such a structure.  I can see this structure floated out on a barge, and then disassembled, transported, and reassembled in an inland location.  Other companies already use tricked out RVs and semi-trucks as touring product showcases.  This would potentially serve a similar purpose, only on a far larger scale.

 

As temporary architecture goes, this could be a very interesting exercise.  Not sure to what extent it serves as a superior technology showcase or marketing push, but it has certainly attracted an inordinate amount of attention and speculation.

 

Like I wrote earlier, I doubt that Treasure Island is the permanent location for this installation, and it might be there simply because of the large hangars/soundstages on TI that can be used for constructing and installing the parts that would go onto the barge. 


Edited by Woochifer - 12/2/13 at 6:36pm
post #33 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

And how are all of the people that don't have any money that typically buy Android products get on the boat? Are they going to run them like some of these pop up stores where you can't take an actual product home? Apparently, they opened up a Pop Up store in my area for Christmas, where you can see all of the products, order the products over the internet (probably trying to get better internet sales numbers) but you can't take anything home and I don't think they have anyone there that will repair/replace a product and these are just temporary stores.

I think Google is thinking so outside the box, that there's no logic involved in actually providing the customer with a solution.

Freaking idiots.


I saw that on a broadcast report.  Why bother with pop up stores if they don't even offer up the option of taking the demoed products home today or serving as a point-of-presence for aftersales support/returns?  Aside from the demos and showcases, the whole point of a B&M store in the first place is instant gratification -- you have the product in your hand right when you decide that you want to buy it.  Free or overnight shipping is no substitute for taking something home right now.

post #34 of 47
Captain Gatorguy will sail it to Samsung in South Korea and be amongst friends.
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post #35 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Captain Gatorguy will sail it to Samsung in South Korea and be amongst friends.


That is a strange comment.

post #36 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


There are some leaked photos of Google's plans for the midwest/desert areas of the US.  Perhaps in one of these they will find the Droids they were looking for. 1smile.gif


post #37 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunks View Post

It looks kind of tacky. Maybe it's just unfinished.

 

With Google Glass it will look like a palace with augmented reality. 

post #38 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woochifer View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post
 

I doubt very much that this project is cheaper than paying rent for "normal" retail space.     And it's also not very environmental, because either the barge or whatever is towing it is going to have to burn oil to create electricity.   It's one thing to have to put up studs, plasterboard, flooring and fixtures in existing space and quite another to have to create a retail environment from scratch on a barge.

 

But "whatever floats their boat".   


Actually, there have been a lot of experimental designs out there involving refitted containers, and similar modular components, that can be readily disassembled and transported.  If anything, a barge is simply one platform among many that can accommodate such a structure.  I can see this structure floated out on a barge, and then disassembled, transported, and reassembled in an inland location.  Other companies already use tricked out RVs and semi-trucks as touring product showcases.  This would potentially serve a similar purpose, only on a far larger scale.

 

As temporary architecture goes, this could be a very interesting exercise.  Not sure to what extent it serves as a superior technology showcase or marketing push, but it has certainly attracted an inordinate amount of attention and speculation.

 

Like I wrote earlier, I doubt that Treasure Island is the permanent location for this installation, and it might be there simply because of the large hangars/soundstages on TI that can be used for constructing and installing the parts that would go onto the barge. 

 

The RVs and Semi trucks don't need a bunch of permits. Setting up a giant container based building on land is not going to be easy either. 

post #39 of 47

I'm a little disappointed. No one made a joke about them copying the "mothership" concept.

post #40 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carthusia View Post
 

Makes me wonder how the Chromebook Pixel is working out for them. Google doesn't quite realize that there's a difference between being out-of-reach and harboring elitist aspirations vs. Apple's strategy of affordable luxury. Glass is out-of-reach enough. Did they have to make seeing/using this product truly only available to Glassholes? Their marketing is just, just horrible.


Glass was never meant for the general public but for the die hard independent developer, it's a test bed, nothing more. Google also sold every single one made and at cost, zero profit was made from it. Google also had no plans on turning a profit with the Pixel, or use it to try and convert people over to Chrome OS. They built it for themselves, i.e. employees, their developers and as gifts, lastly was to offer a few to the public, which is how many they sold. These are in house projects that basically had enough overstock that made it possible to Offer them to the public in limited numbers.

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