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Google Desktop Apps To Ship With Lexar Flash Drive

Preinstalled applications on the minidrive, which can hold up to 2 Gbytes of data, will include Google's Picasa, Toolbar, and Desktop Search.

Antone Gonsalves

December 20, 2005

2 Min Read

Lexar Media Inc. on Tuesday said it would pre-install several Google Inc. desktop applications in its line of mini storage devices starting in January, a move that reflects the industry trend of providing products for taking data and applications on the road.

Lexar, based in Fremont, Calif., plans to include in its JumpDrive line Google Picasa, Toolbar and Desktop Search applications. Picasa provides the ability to find, edit and share photos; the Toolbar offers easy access to Google Web search from a browser; and Desktop Search is for finding files in a PC's hard drive.

The Lexar flash drives, which contain no moving parts and plug into a PC's USB port, can hold as much as 2 gigabytes of data and are about the size of a stick of gum.

Vendors have been shipping applications with flash drives for a while. Lexar, for example, offers security software with some of its devices.

But the Google applications represent a step toward the larger "vision" of making flash drives a storage device for people's software, as well as data, Steffen Hellmold, vice president of product at Lexar, said.

"It's not only my data on my flash drive, but my data and applications," Hellmold said.

In the future, Lexar would like to provide an operating system, applications and data in a single storage device, so a person could take their computer with them, Hellmold said. To access the portable computing environment, a person would only need to plug the device into another computer.

"The vision at some point in the future is to have a complete operating system on the USB flash drive that would be bootable from the device," Hellmold said. "You could bring your computing environment with you -- your operating system, data and applications."

Before that can happen, however, flash drives will need to be able to store a minimum of 4GB or more, about double what's currently available, Hellmold said. Nevertheless, the Google deal is an early step toward that vision.

Hellmold declined to discuss financial details of the Google deal, but said it was a partnership between the two companies. Further uses of the applications in relation to Lexar storage products would be released at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

Lexar is not the first company to partner with Google in offering the Mountain View, Calif., search engine's applications with its products.

Sun Microsystems Inc., for example, said in October that it would distribute the Google Toolbar with the Java Runtime Environment available through Sun's portal for Java technology. Sun claims the JRE, which is the operating environment of Java applications, is on 700 million desktops.

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