It’s been a few years now since Apple opened its first marquee Apple Store on George street in Sydney and changed the expectations of technology shoppers in Australia. We’ve already seen other companies trying to follow the Apple model, and now Telstra has decided to tie its flag to the Android ship by launching “Androidland” in its Bourke Street Telstra store in Melbourne.
Six months in the making, Androidland is a temporary shrine to all things Android. But where Apple opts for minimalism in everything at its retail stores, the Telstra and Google store attempts to infuse a lot more personality. Lines of Android phones are interspersed with little green Android men, while a smell-machine infuses the aroma of freshly mown grass throughout the store.
Green slushies and Android gingerbread cookies are given out to customers, while a huge, interactive screen offers the chance to play the Android version of Angry Birds. Out the back, a huge closed off room offers an area to play with Android apps using a three dimensional joystick in an innovative Android-powered user interface.
While all of these features sound like fun, the real mission is to try and get customers to test out different Android smartphones from Telstra. And why not? The iPhone may sell by the truckload, but Apple makes it quite clear that there’s no real way for carriers to differentiate themselves using the iOS handset. Android, on the other hand, offers the combination of customisation for carriers with a premium price that will lock customers in to 24 month contracts.
We all know that Android is now the number one smartphone platform in the world, but when it comes to individual handsets, iPhone still reigns supreme. Telstra’s experiment here with Google is unlikely to change that at all, but it will help educate consumers - and particularly the less-savvy consumers - about the benefits of having an Android smartphone.
At this stage, Telstra are claiming Androidland to be a temporary experiment in retail, although it’s open to the idea of keeping it going if it proves to be successful. And there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be. Combining fun and education in the retail experience is one of the reasons that Apple has been so successful with its retail strategy over the past decade.
The real question is how long it will take for other companies to start following suit. Telstra and Google have seemingly raised the bar for Australian experiential retailing. Let’s hope the rest of the industry doesn’t find it too high.