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1/3/2006
12:00 PM
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Are Google PC And Operating System On The Near Horizon?

Once again, the Internet is rife with speculation that Google is embarking on a grand new voyage. This week, it's all about the PC (and a Google operating system!). Or something like a PC. Or maybe something PC-esque. Or a networky box that connects with your PC. Oh well, that's the nature of speculation. It's speculative. Regardless, outside of the type of box, there are at least some reported details that make my ears perk up like a curious doggie.

Once again, the Internet is rife with speculation that Google is embarking on a grand new voyage. This week, it's all about the PC (and a Google operating system!). Or something like a PC. Or maybe something PC-esque. Or a networky box that connects with your PC. Oh well, that's the nature of speculation. It's speculative. Regardless, outside of the type of box, there are at least some reported details that make my ears perk up like a curious doggie.The speculation centers on sources who say that Google is in negotiations with Wal-Mart and other retailers to sell a Google PC that will run a Google operating system and be cheap, maybe as low as $200. That's what sparked the buzz and piqued my interest. A retail relationship could mean something is not far off. Of course, the article is labeled with the big prediction caveat, so "not far off" could also mean never.

But that's just the latest in a few months of speculation from somewhat legitimate sources on Google hardware. Last month, Bear Stearns analysts predicted "Google Cubes" that would network music and video between PC and TV. And a few little noticed reports last month toted a possible release of a $200 Google-branded thin client based on partnerships with Wyse Technologies. There's been even further talk about a Google network box if you go a bit farther back. And let me add to the fire by wondering aloud if the operating system is the first concrete connection with the Sun partnership.

Skeptics are everywhere on this, and I think it's a huge leap for a search engine company to all of a sudden have a PC and shiny new operating system to offer. But while Google is known for search and gets almost its entire revenue stream from advertising, it's also all over VoIP, E-mail and Web-site analytics. And aforementioned partnerships make things a little easier for co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to branch out.

We'll find out soon enough if all this is just rampant supposition, because Page is keynoting at the Consumer Electronics Show this Friday. One thing is all but certain: Bill Gates and company eagerly await whatever it is Page has to say.

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