Out in San Francisco Bay, a mystery made its presence known just recently as a mysterious barge parked itself in the midst of the bay and sat, almost ominously, as though waiting for something. At 250 feet long, and carrying multiple racks of shipping containers, about the only thing that was known was that Google owned it, and that something was likely going to be done with it. New information has emerged, however, suggesting just what Google plans to do with that mammoth floating barge, and it's a fairly innovative plan indeed.
According to “multiple sources” who talked to San Francisco's KPIX 5, the massive barge off Treasure Island is actually a marketing platform for Google. Not only will there be luxury showrooms—according to the reports—but there will also be a party deck specifically geared toward showing off things like Google Glass and various other items, of which Google has quite a few. Said party deck--and likely the functions it will host--is set to be available by invitation only. The showrooms are said to comprise the first three floors, and when complete will offer things like floor lighting and chrome features. Meanwhile, the party deck is said to be extensive, complete with multiple bars and lanais for the guests' entertainment and comfort.
All of these things are said to be contained in the shipping containers, which is actually in some circles a popular move in terms of construction. But in this case, it gives Google something of a modular edge, allowing the company to, as needed, disassemble the entire operation, pack it up and ship it elsewhere using, say, trains, trucks, or even other barges to move the operation in a matter of days.
Reports indicate that the massive barge has been part of plans that go back over a year as part of the Google[x] facility's purview. Google kept much of this operation quiet, and at one point the Coast Guard was said to have gotten involved until inspections took place and the Google operation was found compliant with applicable regulations.
It's a clever idea, to be sure; Google got plenty of headlines out of the secret barge it had floating off the coast of San Francisco, and now it will likely get plenty more thanks to its ability to move quickly through not only much of the United States, but potentially a chunk of the wider world as well. Consider the idea of a Spring Break event in Florida featuring the Google barge showroom, or a special event for Sundance, South by Southwest, or even CES, which is only a couple months out. Google could essentially deploy a luxury showroom around a large swath of the United States in a matter of days, and that's the kind of marketing experience that's tough to pass up. It's the kind of marketing experience that would likely land headlines anywhere it went, further augmenting the impact of marketing efforts launched through it, and a one-two punch like that lets it make the case for itself.
It will depend on how it's ultimately used, of course, but it's a pretty safe bet that Google has landed a winner here in terms of its newest operation, and seeing this in action should be quite a sight indeed. There's no word as yet on when it opens, or who will be let in to see it when it is, but even that's a development to watch for.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi