The Los Angeles Times reported that the search engine giant has been chatting with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and others to sell a computer that would run a Google-developed operating system, not Microsoft Corp.'s Windows.
Larry Page, co-founder and president of products at the Mountain View, Calif., company, could use his scheduled Friday keynote at the Consumer Electronics Shows in Las Vegas to either unveil a Google computer or announce a deal with a major retailer to sell what would be a low-priced machine, the newspaper said.
The report unleashed lots of speculation and commentary among bloggers. Here's a sampling:
"The Google PC could turn out to be a key support mechanism for Google’s various online services. It’s highly likely that the PC won’t emphasize a high-powered CPU and tons of storage. Rather, why not rely on Google Web apps for both functionality and storage." Rogerd's Notebook
OpenSource Watch believed that Google was going to use the $100 laptop developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "My bet is that Google is going to re-brand some of them and sell them as a Google PC, complete with a Google operating system. It’s not rocket science to see what will happen next. Google is taking Microsoft head on - Google Office, Google Operating System and of course, Google.com as home page."
"From what I can guess, this would help Google expand it’s video and music search offerings, by making the search technology available to individuals, similar to what the Google Desktop accomplishes, but on a grander scale." TechBytes
"I'm still not convinced that it could gain that much of a market share, considering that it'll come out with a relatively unknown OS. Sure, Google has proven that it's top dog in the Web world, but jumping into OS and hardware doesn't necessarily mean it'll be on top there too." The Cooler Zone
JupiterResearch analyst Joe Wilcox said it was certainly possible that Google could launch its own computing device, given Google's practice of releasing lots of products in beta to see what sparks the most consumer interest.
"Anything is possible, but just because it's possible, doesn't mean that it's feasible," Wilcox said. "It's not that they can't do it, but can they make it successful."
Wal-Mart has offered low-cost Linux PCs through its Web sites, but have yet to sell them in its stores, Wilcox said. In addition, while Google may be interested in offering a computer that would give quick access to all its services, the idea of such an "Internet PC" that runs applications through a browser was available in the late 1990s, but failed in the market.
Given the price of PCs today, some already selling for as low as a couple hundred dollars, offering a low-cost PC alone isn't enough of a reason to attract buyers, Wilcox said. "It has to run applications that people use."