Google Inc. GOOG +1.15% has been developing plans
to launch retail stores in the U.S., said people familiar with the matter, in another sign the company is studying Apple Inc.'s AAPL -0.52% playbook for building a consumer-electronics brand.
The stores would likely sell Google-branded hardware, these people said. But it isn't clear when or where any stores would open, and one of the people said the Internet giant might not move forward with the plan this year.
Apple's stores have been a big factor in the success of the company's iPhones and iPads, and Microsoft Corp. MSFT -0.11% has also opened its own retail outlets. Inside Google, the idea of opening retail stores has long been debated as the company has become a major player in mobile devices, said people familiar with the discussions.
Google's interest in retail stores was reported earlier by the 9to5 blog network.